By Beth Daley, Globe Staff
It used to be that piping plovers and people didn't mix.
After the tiny shorebird was listed as threatened in 1986 under the Federal Endangered Species Act, beaches along the East Coast were closed to vehicles and often, people, to protect the nests. Plover eggs can resemble sand and stones and beachgoers would sometimes inadvertently step on them - or scare adult plovers so much they abandon nests.
A piping plover
Times have really changed. For the second year in a row, the wee birds returned to raise young at Revere Beach. That's right. Teeming Revere Beach.
"For two years in a row, one of America's most popular urban beaches has played host to a species ranked as threatened on both the Massachusetts and the federal Endangered Species Lists,'' said Ian Bowles, state Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. "This is positive news for renewal of our historic coasts."
The return of the shorebirds is nothing but a success story.
In 1986 there were only 139 pairs on Massachusetts’ beaches and 790 breeding pairs along the entire East Coast, from Atlantic Canada to South Carolina. Now there are 557 breeding pairs in Massachusetts and 1,887 along the coast.
The birds also nested for the first time this year at the state's Winthrop Shore Reservation. Twine fencing was placed around two nests there and one at Revere Beach. Employees from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, Massachusetts Audubon and New England Aquarium also protected the nests from foot traffic.
"We put up stakes, twine and a few signs. But the beach users have taken it upon themselves to give the birds the space they need and to self-police the few individuals that might have caused problems,'' said Susannah Corona, assistant curator in the fishes department of The New England Aquarium.
For more information go to http://www.massaudubon.org/cwp/index.php
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