Population status

Piping Plover
(Charadrius melodus)

Both subspecies of Piping Plovers are monitored in Canada through dedicated surveys initiated in 1991. These results suggest that numbers in the prairie population (circumcinctus) have varied widely since then, primarily due to prairie flood and drought regimes. The most recent published data indicate that numbers decreased by 22.9% since surveys began (Elliott-Smith et al. 2009) and likely somewhat more since the early 1970s. Counts were considerably lower in the most recent survey (2011), but massive flooding of breeding habitat may have biased these results (COSEWIC 2013c). The smaller eastern population (melodus) has shown little overall change since 1991, although numbers have declined considerably in annual surveys since 2011 (COSEWIC 2013c). Estimates from the 1970s put the population at 450-600 (Bell 1978) and <1,000 breeding pairs (Cairns 1977). Considering these results for both subspecies, the national population of Piping Plover is thought to have decreased relative to the early 1970s. The Piping Plover population in Canada remains below management targets for both subspecies.


International Piping Plover Census

Additional information on: International Piping Plover Census

Table 1: Population trends by geographic area
Geographic areaTime PeriodTrend Table 1 - footnote 1 Limits
Canada Select to view graph of the geographic area: Canada 1991-2011; International Piping Plover Census1991-2011