Piping Plover circumcinctus subspecies
(Charadrius melodus circumcinctus)


Picture of bird
© JP Goossen
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The circumcinctus subspecies of Piping Plover breeds primarily in prairie Canada, and especially in Saskatchewan. Dedicated censuses for Piping Plovers have documented variable counts, but the 2011 census indicates a decrease since 1991. Piping Plovers are at risk due to their small population size and poor adult survival rate. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC 2013c) first designated the circumcinctus subspecies as endangered in 2001 and re-confirmed this in 2013. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.

See also:

Piping Plover
Piping Plover melodus subspecies


Listing of the main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Endangered2013Piping Plover circumcinctus subspecies
SARA (Canada)Endangered2003Piping Plover circumcinctus subspecies
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic areaStatusReliability
CanadaModerate DecreaseMedium

Population estimate

Canada1,000 - 10,000 adults (includes birds breeding and migrating within Canada)

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation of world population


Conservation and management

Piping Plovers in prairie Canada nest near shallow, alkaline wetlands. Climate- or human-induced changes to water levels affect habitat suitability, result in redistribution of breeding birds, and could reduce habitat availability in the long-term (Gratto-Trevor and Abbott 2011). Because of the small population size, even local disturbances are a significant threat to the species. Increasing predation by gulls, magpies and crows and other wildlife that may have increased as a result of human changes to the landscape, habitat loss and the presence of livestock are all considered potential threats to circumcinctus subspecies (COSEWIC 2013c). Piping Plovers on the Ontario Great Lakes nest on sand beaches. Human disturbance from recreation, beach management (e.g., raking and removal of natural material) and shoreline development are considered important threats. For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view the Recovery strategy, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Ontario Region
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario Region