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Montana Animal Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Piping Plover - Charadrius melodus

Species of Concern

Global Rank: G3
State Rank: S2B

Agency Status
PIF: 1


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Copyright by Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, all rights reserved.
General Description
One of the smaller plovers of North America, weighing only about 46 to 63 grams, the Piping Plover is approximately 17 to 18 cm long with an average wingspan of 48 cm. The back, wings, cheek patches, crown, and breast band are a pale gray. The rest of the body is white, except the tail, which is dark above with white terminal ends and uppertail coverts. The wing tips have a band of black, then a broad band of white, and end in black. In breeding plumage, the breast band changes to black, and is often not a continuous line, with a break in the center. Also at this time, the otherwise singularly gray crown is banded in front with a black stripe that reaches over the head from eye to eye. During the non-breeding season, the short bill is dark, but changes to orange with a dark tip in the breeding season. Throughout the year, the legs are chrome-orange (Haig 1992). The iris is dark. Immature plumage resembles adult non-breeding plumage; juveniles acquire adult plumage in the spring after they fledge.

This plover's common vocalization is described as clear, low-pitched, mellow whistled "peep, peeto" or "peeplo" (Sibley 2000). When agitated, the Piping Plover is known to express an extended series of low, soft whistles "woo-up, woo-up, woo-up, wooo-up..."; while during display, the call repeated in flight is a high-pitched "pipe-pipe-pipe-pipe-pipe..." (Haig 1992).

For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.

Diagnostic Characteristics
The other plover species found in Montana of comparable size and coloration is the Semipalmated Plover. The Piping Plover is, however, distinguishable from this other species by its lighter overall appearance. The Semipalmated Plover has much darker upperparts, is larger, has thicker, longer legs and a broad, black stripe through the eye, which the Piping Plover does not. The Piping Plover is also similar in appearance to the Snowy Plover, a rare species in Montana. The dark legs and thinner bill of the Snowy Plover during the breeding season easily separates these two species.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Western Hemisphere Range


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 1309

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density


(direct evidence "B")

(indirect evidence "b")

No evidence of Breeding
(transient "t")

(regular observations "W")

(at least one obs. "w")


(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

The Piping Plover usually arrives in Montana in early May and leaves the state by late August. The earliest reported observation dates for the species are for April: 28 April 1993, Fort Peck Reservoir (Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee 1994); April 2001, Upper Goose Lake, Sheridan County (Montana Bird Distribution Committee 2012). Most of the observations reported in the state are for breeding individuals, or for activity that suggests breeding.

Reports of Piping Plovers during migration are not common, but do occur just east of the Rocky Mountains (Montana Bird Distribution Committee 2012). Although they were known to breed at Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge and at Fort Peck Reservoir, little attention was paid to the species prior to its listing in 1985. As a result, few observations prior to 1985 are recorded (Montana Bird Distribution Committee 2012).

Piping Plovers primarily select unvegetated sand or pebble beaches on shorelines or islands in freshwater and saline wetlands. Vegetation, if present at all, consists of sparse, scattered clumps (Casey 2000). Open shorelines and sandbars of rivers and large reservoirs in the eastern and north-central portions of the state provide prime breeding habitat (USFWS 2003). In Montana, and throughout the species' range, nesting may occur on a variety of habitat types. If conditions are right, alkali wetlands, lakes, reservoirs, and rivers can all provide the essential features required for nesting. The alkali wetlands and lakes found in the northeastern corner of the state generally contain wide, unvegetated, gravelly, salt-encrusted beaches. Rivers that flood adequately can supply open sandbars or gravelly beaches, as can large reservoirs, with their shoreline beaches, peninsulas, and islands of gravel or sand (USFWS 2003).

Sites with gravel substrate provide the most suitable sites for nesting (Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee 1994). One of the most limiting factors to nesting site selection is vegetational encroachment; Piping Plovers avoid areas where vegetation provides cover for potential predators. Fine-textured soils are easier to treat mechanically than rocky or gravelly soils when vegetation is determined as a limiting factor in an area's ability to provide suitable nesting habitat, but fine soils are not typically a preferred nesting substrate (Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee 1994). Another, and more important limiting factor in nest site selection is the location of nesting sites in relation to surrounding water levels. Nests are often inundated because water levels are kept unnaturally high throughout the breeding season (and high winds can cause nests to be flooded), or nesting sites are not available, either because of encroaching vegetation or because water levels are so high that beaches are under water during the early part of, and possibly throughout, the nesting season (Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee 1994). Nests are simple scrapes dug into the nest substrate which may or may not be lined with pebbles (Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee 1994, 1995, Haig 1992).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Food habits studies come from other areas of the species' overall range. Information states that Piping Plover food choices consist of worms, fly larvae, beetles, crustaceans, mollusks, and other invertebrates (Bent 1928). The chicks learn to feed themselves and eat smaller versions of adult food items (Hull 1981). Piping Plovers feed more leisurely than other sandpipers, alternately running and pausing to search for prey (Bent 1928). Open shoreline areas are preferred, and vegetated beaches are avoided (Cuthbert and Wiens 1982).

The Piping Plover eats various small invertebrates, though relatively little information is available on breeding and winter diet. In New Jersey, intertidal polychaetes were the main prey of plovers foraging at night (Staine and Burger 1994). In the Magdalen Islands, Quebec, Staphylinidae, Curculionidae, and Diptera were the organisms most commonly found in fecal droppings (Shaffer and Laporte 1994).

This plover forages along ocean beaches, on intertidal flats, tidal pool edges, etc. Food is obtained from the surface of the substrate, or occasionally by probing into the sand or mud. In Massachusetts, the species was found to prefer mudflat, intertidal, and wrack habitats for foraging (Hoopes et al. 1992). On Assateague Island, bay beaches and island interiors were much more favorable as brood-rearing habitats than were ocean beaches (Patterson et al. 1992).

Information from studies in other areas of the species' range reveal the Piping Plovers defend territory during breeding season and at some winter sites. The nesting territory may or may not contain the foraging area, and the home range during the breeding season generally is confined to the vicinity of the nest. If a nest is destroyed, the home range may be altered before re-nesting; in Manitoba, shifts of 3 to 100 kilometers have occurred (Haig and Oring 1988).

In the Great Plains, annual survivorship was 66 percent in adults, 60 percent in immatures; it was calculated that a 31 percent increase in chicks fledged per pair (to 1.2 chicks fledged per pair annually) was needed to stabilize the population (Root et al. 1992, Ryan et al. 1993). Data from Massachusetts indicate that mean annual productivity of one chick per pair will maintain a stationary population (Melvin et al. 1992).

Longevity records indicate that only 13 percent of females and 28 percent of the males lived to five years. Eleven years of age is probably the maximum age (Wilcox 1959).

In Duluth Harbor, the species was found to nest within a Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) colony and benefited from the terns' defense against Ring-billed (Larus delawarensis) and Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) (Niemi and Davis 1979). Great Plains populations are sometimes associated with Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) colonies (Faanes 1983, Hay and Lingle 1981, Dinan, personal communication). Most eastern sites also have Least Terns (Vickery, personal communication, Master, personal communication). This plover also has a commensal relationship with American Avocets (Recurvirostra americana) (Prindiville and Ryan 1984). Plovers nesting in areas used by American Avocets had a 62 percent nesting success, compared to a 29 percent success in areas without American Avocets. Once hatched, chick survival rates were similar, regardless of American Avocet presence.

Known, or suspected, predators include American Mink (Mustela vison), Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis), Raccoon (Procyon lotor), several avian predators, and domestic cats (Felis domesticus) and dogs (Canus familiaris) ( Haig 1992).

Reproductive Characteristics
Limited historic observations and breeding records for the Piping Plover in Montana suggest the rarity of the species. At the time of listing, 1985, the number of breeding pairs in Montana was estimated at 10, although only four nesting pairs were documented in that year (Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee 1994). The recovery objective for Piping Plover in Montana is a minimum of 60 nesting pairs for a period of 15 years, a number that was exceeded for the third year in a row in 1995 with 62 nesting pairs reported (MTFWP 2003) and in all successive years since (Casey 2000).

Haig and Plissner (1993) indicate 308 adult Piping Plovers were counted in Montana during the 1991 international census, accounting for 105 breeding pairs. A total of 79 sites with appropriate habitat were censused in that year; Piping Plovers were found at 39 of those sites (Haig & Plissner 1993).

The primary nesting locations for Piping Plovers are Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Northeast Montana Wetland Management District (Sheridan County), Nelson Reservoir, Fort Peck Reservoir, and the Missouri River (Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee 1994). Clutch size in Montana appears to be typical with most nests having 5 eggs (range 1 to 4) (Haig 1992, Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committte 1994, 1995). The most recent report of the Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee (1994) details information on surveys for nesting Piping Plover at Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge, the Northeast Montana Wetland Management District (Sheridan County), Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Peck Reservoir, Missouri River, Nelson Reservoir, Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Hewitt Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Alkali Lake, Arod Lake, Canyon Ferry Reservoir, Yellowstone River, Powder River, and other water bodies in the state that offer potential habitat for nesting Piping Plovers (Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee 1994).

Most reproductive data come from studies in other areas of the species' range. These studies state the breeding season begins when the adults reach the breeding grounds in mid-to late-April or in mid-May in northern parts of the range. The adult males arrive earliest, select beach habitats, and defend established territories against other males (Hull 1981). When adult females arrive at the breeding grounds several weeks later, the males conduct elaborate courtship rituals including aerial displays of circles and figure eights, whistling song, posturing with spread tail and wings, and rapid drumming of feet (Bent 1929, Hull 1981). The Piping Plover can breed the first spring after hatching, and although some birds do not obtain a mate each year, most birds do (Haig 1992).

Nest initiation generally occurs in late-May to early-June. Birds often return to the same nesting area in consecutive years (but few return to natal sites). The species sometimes shifts breeding location by up to several hundred kilometers between consecutive years. Wilcox (1959) has shown that only 20 percent settle at a nest site farther than 1,000 feet from the previous year's locality. Adult females tend to choose new nest sites within the same geographic area with over 50 percent choosing a new nest site over 1,000 feet from the previous year. Previous reproductive success apparently does not increase the probability of returning to specific breeding sites (USFWS 1994). In Manitoba, adults that experienced nest failure the previous year usually changed general nesting location (Haig and Oring 1988).

Generally monogamous during a single breeding season, adults tend to pick new mates each year (Wilcox 1959). In southern Manitoba, most breeders changed mates in subsequent years, but hatching success was lower than for birds that retained mates; some birds changed mates within the breeding season after nest destruction (Haig and Oring 1988).

Nest sites are simple depressions or scrapes in the sand (Bent 1929, Wilcox 1959). The average nest is about 6 to 8 cm in diameter, and is often lined with pebbles, shells, or driftwood to enhance the camouflage effect. Males make the scrapes and may construct additional (unused) nests in their territories, which may be used to deceive predators or may simply reflect over-zealousness (Wilcox 1959, Hull 1981). Occupied nests are generally 50 to 100 meters apart (Wilcox 1959, Cairns 1977, Niemi and Davis 1979, Cuthbert and Wiens 1982).

Egg-laying commences soon after mating (Cuthbert and Wiens 1982, Hull 1981), with an egg laid every second day. The eggs are oval to pyriform, cream or ivory and finely speckled and spotted with black and gray, and 32 x 24 mm in size (Baicich and Harrison 2005). The average clutch size is four (Wilcox 1959) with 3-egg clutches occurring most commonly in replacement clutches. The average number of young fledged per nesting pair usually is two or fewer. The young hatch about 27 to 31 days after egg-laying, and incubation is shared by both adults (Wilcox 1959, Hull 1981).

The young leave the nest about two hours after hatching and are capable of running and swimming. The young remain within about 200 meters of the nest, although they do not return after hatching (Wilcox 1959, Hull 1981, Johnsgard 1979). When disturbed or threatened, the young either freeze or combine short runs with freezing, and blend very effectively into their surroundings (Wilcox 1959, Hull 1981). The adults will feign injury to draw intruders away from the nest or young (Wilcox 1959, Bent 1929). Adults also defend the nest territory against other adult Piping Plovers, gulls, and songbirds (Wilcox 1959, Matteson 1980). First (unsustained) flight has been observed at around 18 days, with chicks molting into first juvenile plumage by day 22 (Zickefoose, personal communication).

Nest success depends heavily upon camouflage (Hull 1981). Hatching success ranges widely: 91 percent for undisturbed beaches on Long Island (Wilcox 1959), 76 percent for undisturbed beaches in Nova Scotia (Cairns 1977), 44 percent on relatively undisturbed beaches at Lake of the Woods (Cuthbert and Wiens 1982), and 30 percent maximum at disturbed Michigan beaches (Lambert and Ratcliff 1979). A study in Sheridan County, Montana, and in three northern counties in North Dakota determined that the highest fledgling rates occurred at lakes surrounded by treeless rangeland (Murphy et. al 2000). This species will re-nest if the first clutch is lost. There is no documentation of more than one brood raised per season in southern Manitoba.

Four specific geographic areas, recognized as providing critically important habitat and identified as essential for the conservation of the species, have been designated as "Critical Habitat Units" in Montana. The designation of critical habitat may require federal agencies to develop special management actions affecting these sites. The four units include prairie alkali wetlands and surrounding shoreline; river channels and associated sandbars and islands; and reservoirs and inland lakes with associated shorelines, peninsulas, and islands (USFWS 2003). Piping Plovers rely on these places for courtship, nesting, foraging, and brood rearing.

The first, Unit 1, contains alkali lake and wetland habitat found in Sheridan County. Unit 2 is identified as riverine habitat and includes the Missouri River just south of Wolf Point to the state line, encompassing habitat provided by the sparsely vegetated sandbars, and sandy or gravelly beaches along this stretch of the river. Reservoirs, which include similar sandbars and sandy or gravelly beach habitat, define both Units 3 and 4. Unit 3 includes Fort Peck Reservoir, from south of the dam to and including approximately 26 miles (north to south distance) of the length of Dry Arm. Portions of Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, the majority of Lake Bowdoin and the western portion of the Dry Lake, were designated as Unit 4.

Piping Plovers nest at Nelson Reservoir north of Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, but are not contained within any of the Critical Habitat Units in the state. This reservoir was excluded from the critical habitat designation because of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the local irrigation districts. The memorandum, in combination with a biological opinion from the USFWS, guides management actions at this location (USFWS 2003).

Management activities include moving nests upslope from areas where flooding of nests is imminent; using nest cages over nest bowls to prevent trampling and predation by avian predators; signing beaches to indicate nesting; beach enhancement (grading or burning unwanted encroaching vegetation); raising island elevation to make room to move nests in years with rising water during the nesting season; the release of captive-reared plovers (Erickson and Prellwitz 1999); and timing spring flow releases from Fort Peck Dam to more closely mimic the natural seasonal flows of the river (MTFWP 2003). Other management activities to enhance habitat or affect better protection for this plover include building structures (weirs) to contain water in reservoirs for longer periods during the breeding season, placing gravel on otherwise muddy beaches to create appropriate substrate (Hanebury, personal communication 2003), and reducing human, dog, and vehicular disturbance during nesting (MTFWP 2003).

The greatest threat to nesting plovers is the loss of nesting sites by high water levels at any time of the year, but especially during the nesting season for it can result in inundation of existing nests (Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee 1994). Rising water levels later in the nesting season result in decreasing overall island size, and may assist avian predators to locate nests more easily (Erickson and Prellwitz 1999). These conditions enforce the need to manage reservoirs and dammed rivers in a manner that mimics more natural seasonal fluctuations.

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Baicich, P.J. and C.J.O. Harrison. 2005. A guide to the nests, eggs and nestlings of North American birds. Second edition. Academic Press, New York.
    • Bent, A. C. 1929. Life histories of North American shorebirds (Part II). U.S. National Museum Bulletin 146. Washington, D.C.
    • Bent, A.C. 1928. Life histories of the North American shore birds, Vol. 11. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, New York. 412 pp.
    • Cairns, W. E. 1977. Breeding biology and behavior of the piping plover (Charadrius melodus) in southern Nova Scotia. M.S. thesis. Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. 155 pp.
    • Casey, D. 2000. Partners in Flight Draft Bird Conservation Plan Montana. Version 1.0. 287 pp.
    • Cuthbert, F. J. and T. Wiens. 1982. Status and breeding biology of the piping plover in Lake of the Woods County, Minnesota. Report submitted to Non-Game Program, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 18 pp.
    • Erickson, K. and F. Prellwitz. 1999. Piping plover (Charadrius melodus) surveys; Nelson Reservoir, Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Hewitt Lake National Wildlife Refuge. May 1999. Unpublished report. PRT-704930.
    • Faanes, C. A. 1983. Aspects of the nesting ecology of least terns and piping plovers in central Nebraska. Prairie Naturalist 15(4): 145-154.
    • Haig, S.M. 1992. Distribution and status of piping plovers in winter. Abstract, 6th Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology. 69 pp.
    • Haig, S.M. and J.H. Plissner. 1993. Distribution and abundance of piping plovers: results and implications of the 1991 international census. Condor 95:145-156.
    • Haig, S.M. and L.W. Oring. 1988. Distribution and dispersal in the piping plover. Auk 105:630-638.
    • Haig, S.M. and L.W. Oring. 1988. Genetic differentiation of piping plovers across North America. Auk 105:260-267.
    • Haig, S.M. and L.W. Oring. 1988. Mate, site, and territory fidelity in piping plovers. Auk 105:268-277.
    • Hay, M. A. and G. R. Lingle. 1981. The birds of Mormon Island Crane Meadows, Nebraska. Report to The Nature Conservancy, June 1981. 206 pp.
    • Hoopes, E. M., C. R. Griffin, and S. M. Melvin. 1992. Foraging ecology of piping plovers in Massachusetts. Abstract, 6th Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology. 74 pp.
    • Hull, C. 1981. Great Lakes piping plover in trouble. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Lansing, Michigan. 2 pp.
    • Johnsgard, P.A. 1979. Birds of the Great Plains: breeding species and their distribution. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 539 pp.
    • Lambert, A. and B. Ratcliff. 1979. A survey of piping plovers in Michigan, 1979. Report submitted to Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Lansing, Michigan.
    • Marks, J.S., P. Hendricks, and D. Casey. 2016. Birds of Montana. Arrington, VA. Buteo Books. 659 pages.
    • Matteson, S. W. 1980. 1980 survey of breeding gulls and terns in Chequamegon Bay. Report submitted to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, Wisconsin. 19 pp.
    • Melvin, S. M., et al. 1992. Demographic responses to management of piping plovers on outer Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Abstract, 6th Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology. 96 pp.
    • Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map.
    • Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. 2003. Online informational search on piping plovers in Montana.
    • Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee. 1994. 1993 Surveys for piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and least tern (Sterna antillarum) in Montana. Unpublished report. 116 pp. plus appendices.
    • Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee. 1995. 1994 Surveys for piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and least tern (Sterna antillarum) in Montana. 117 pp. plus appendices.
    • Murphy, R. K., M. J. Rabenberg, M. L. Sondreal, B. R. Casler, and D. A. Guenther. 2000. Reproductive success of piping plovers on alkali lakes in North Dakota and Montana. Prairie Naturalist 32:233-242.
    • Niemi, G. and T. Davis. 1979. Notes on the nesting ecology of the piping plover. Loon 51:74-9.
    • Patterson, M. E., J. P. Loegering, and J. D. Fraser. 1992. Piping plover breeding biology and foraging ecology on Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland. Abstract, 6th Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology. 103 pp.
    • Prindiville, E. and M. Ryan. 1984. Preliminary results of a study on the productivity and habitat requirements of piping plovers in central North Dakota. Unpublished report submitted to The Nature Conservancy.
    • Root, B. G., M. R. Ryan, and P. M. Macer. 1992. Piping plover survival rate in the Great Plains. Journal of Field Ornithology 63:10-15.
    • Ryan, M. R., B. G. Root, and P. M. Mayer. 1993. Status of piping plovers in the Great Plains of North America: a demographic simulation model. Conservation Biology 7(3):581-585.
    • Shaffer, F. and P. Laporte. 1994. Diet of piping plovers on the Magdalen Islands, Quebec. Wilson Bulletin 106:531-536.
    • Sibley, D.A. 2000. The Sibley guide to birds. National Audubon Society and Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, NY. 544 pp.
    • Staine, K. J. and J. Burger. 1994. Nocturnal foraging behavior of breeding piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) in New Jersey. Auk 111:579-587.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1994. Draft revised recovery plan for piping plovers, Charadrius melodus, breeding on the Great Lakes and Northern Great Plains of the United States. USFWS, Twin Cities, Minnesota. v + 121 pp.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2003. Online informational search on piping plover in Montana.
    • Wilcox, L. 1959. A twenty year banding study of the piping plover. Auk 75:129-152.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • American Ornithologists’ Union [AOU]. 1998. Check-list of North American birds, 7th edition. American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C. 829 p.
    • Andrews, R., and R. Righter. 1992. Colorado birds: a reference to their distribution and habitat. Denver Mus. Nat. Hist. xxxviii + 442pp.
    • Atkinson, S. J., and A. R. Dood. 2006. Montana Piping Plover Management Plan. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Bozeman.
    • Boyne, A. 2000. Draft update COSEWIC status report on Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus). Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa. 45pp.
    • Bradstreet, M. S. W., G. W. Page and W. G. Johnson. 1977. Shorebirds at Long Point, Lake Eire, 1966-1971: seasonal occurrence, habitat preference, and variation in abundance. Canadian Field Naturalist 91:225-36.
    • Brown, S. 1986. Managing different populations of a species: the case of the piping plover. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin Reprint 3(6).
    • Burger, J. 1993. Shorebird squeeze. Natural History 5/93, pp. 8-14.
    • Cairns, W. E., and I. A. McLaren. 1980. Status of the piping plover (Charadrius melodus) on the East Coast of North America. American Birds 34:206-8.
    • Carlson, C. M., and P. D. Skaar. 1976. Piping plover in Montana. Western Birds 7:60-70.
    • Cartar, R. 1976. The status of the piping plover at Long Point, Ontario, 1966-1974. Ont. Field Biol. 30:42-5.
    • Casler, B. and M.J. Rabenburg. 1997. Piping Plover surveys on Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Northeast Montana Wetland Management District. 8 pp.
    • Christopherson, D. 1988. Memorandum to Piping Plover Recovery Committee re: standardized plover/tern survey form.
    • Christopherson, D. 1991. Results of surveys for piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and least tern (Sterna antillarum) in Montana, summer 1990. Unpublished report for the Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee. 60 pp.
    • Confluence Consulting Inc. 2011. Montana Department of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports (various sites). MDT Helena, MT.
    • Dinsmore, J. J. 1981. Piping plovers - a synthesis of the literature and an annotated bibliography. Unpublished report. 28 pp.
    • Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
    • Erickson, Kathry and Dwain M. Prellwitz. 1998. Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) Surveys: Nelson Reservoir, Bowoin NWR and Hewitt Lake NWR. 9 pp.
    • Espie, R.H.M., R.M. Brigham and P.C. James. 1996. Habitat selection and clutch fate of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) breeding at Lake Diefenbaker, Saskatchewan. Can. J. Zool. 74(6): 1069-1075.
    • Evers, D. C. 1992. A guide to Michigan's endangered wildlife. Univ. Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. viii + 103 pp.
    • Flemming, S. P. et al. 1988. Piping plover status in Nova Scotia related to its reproductive and behavioral responses to human disturbance. J. Field Ornithol. 59:321-330.
    • Gaines, E.P. and M.R. Ryan. 1988. Piping plover habitat use and reproductive success in North Dakota. The Journal of Wildlife Management 52(2): 266-273.
    • Goossen, J. P. 1990. Piping plover research and conservation in Canada. Blue Jay 48:139-153.
    • Haig, S. 1983. The piping plover. Natural Areas Journal 3(3):35-37.
    • Haig, S.M. 1992. Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus). In: A. Poole, P. Stettenheim, and F. Gill, (eds.), The Birds of North America, No. 2. Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington D.C.: The American Ornithologists Union. 18 pp.
    • Haig, Susan M., and Elliott-Smith, E. 2004. Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus). Species Account Number 002. The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Retrieved 3/25/2008 from The Birds of North America Online database
    • Halbeisen, R. 1977. Disturbances of incubating snowy plovers on Pt. Reyes. Point Reyes Bird Obs. 42:2-3.
    • Hanebury, Lou, Erickson, Kathy and Prellwitz, Dwain M. 1996. Piping Plover surveys for Nelson Reservoir, Bowdoin NWR and Hewitt Lake NWR.
    • Hanebury, Lou. 2003. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Biologist, Billings, Montana. Personal communication regarding management activities focused on the conservation of Piping Plover in Montana. 12 May 2003.
    • Johnsgard, P. 1981. The Plovers, Sandpipers, and Snipes of the World. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska. 493 pp.
    • Johnsgard, P.A. 1992. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xi + 504 pp.
    • Kantrud, H. A., and K. F. Higgins. 1992. Nest and nest site characteristics of some ground-nesting, non-passerine birds of northern grasslands. Prairie Naturalist 24(2):67-84.
    • Kantrud, H.A. and R.E. Stewart. 1984. Ecological distribution and crude density of breeding birds on prairie wetlands. J. Wildl. Manage. 48(2): 426-437.
    • Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar’s Montana bird distribution, 6th edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, MT. 144 pp.
    • MacIvor, L. H., S. M. Melvin, and C. R. Griffin. 1990. Effects of research activity on piping plover nest predation. J. Wildlife Management 54:443-447.
    • Mackey, D. and J. Spence. 1989. Surveys of breeding piping plovers and least terns on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, Montana - summer 1989. 12 pp plus appendices.
    • Mackey, D. t B. Viste, and J. Spence. 1992. Population status and productivity of piping plovers and least terns using Fort Peck reservoir and the Missouri River, northeast Montana. USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Peck.
    • Mackey, D., and J. Spence. 1990. Population status and productivity of piping plovers and least terns using Fort Peck reservoir and the Missouri River, northeast Montana. USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Peck.
    • Mackey, D., D. Ritchey, and J. Spence. 1991. Population status and productivity of piping plovers and least terns using Fort Peck reservoir and the Missouri River, northeast Montana. USDI Fish.and Wildlife Service, Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Peck.
    • Montana Bird Distribution Online Database. 2001. Helena, Montana, USA. April-September 2003.
    • Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee. 1986. Piping plover survey summary report for Montana. USFWS, internal memorandum.
    • Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee. 1987. Results of surveys for Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) and Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) in Montana summer 1987. Unpublished report. 25 pp.
    • Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee. 1988. Results of surveys for Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) and Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) in northeastern Montana - summer 1987. Unpublished report.
    • Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee. 1989. Results of surveys for piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) in Montana - summer 1988. 39 pp.
    • Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee. 1990. Results of surveys for Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) and Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) in Montana - summer 1989. Unpublished report. 43 pp.
    • Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee. 1992. Results of surveys for Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) and Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) in Montana - summer 1991. Unpublished report. 62 pp.
    • Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee. 1993. Surveys for Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) and Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) in Montana - summer 1992. Unpublished report. 66 pp.
    • Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee. 1995. 1994 Surveys for Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) and Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) in Montana. 117 pp. plus appendices.
    • Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee. 1996. 1996 Surveys for piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and Least tern (Sterna antillarum) in Montana. Unpublished report.
    • Montana Piping Plover Recovery Committee. 1997. 1995 Surveys for piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and Least tern (Sterna antillarum) in Montana. Unpublished report. 112 pp. plus appendix.
    • Nicholls, J. L., and G. A. Baldassare. 1990. Winter distribution of piping plovers along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Wilson Bulletin 102:400-412.
    • Nicholls, J. L., and G. A. Baldassarre. 1990. Habitat associations of piping plovers wintering in the United States. Wilson Bulletin 102:581-590.
    • Nol, E. 1980. Factors affecting the nesting successof the killdeer (Charadrius melodus) on Long Point, Ontario. University of Guelph, Ontario. M.S. thesis. 155 pp.
    • Patterson, M. E., J. D. Fraser and J. W. Roggenbuck. 1990. Piping plover ecology, management and research needs. Virginia Jour. Sci. 41(4A):419-26.
    • Powell, A. N., and F. J. Cuthbert. 1992. Habitat and reproductive success of piping plovers nesting on Great Lakes islands. Wilson Bull. 104:155-161.
    • Prellwitz, D. W., T. A. Prellwitz, K. L. Stutzman and J. W. Stutzman. 1989. Piping plovers nesting at Nelson Reservoir, Montana. The Prairie Naturalist 21(2):84-86.
    • Quinn, J. R., and R. B. Walden. 1966. Notes on the incubation and rearing of the piping plover (Charadrius melodus). Avicultural Mag. 72:145-6.
    • Reel, S., L. Schassberger and W. Ruediger. 1989. Caring for Our Natural Community: Region 1 - Theatened, Endangered and Sensitive Species Program. USDA, Forest Service Northern Region Wildlife and Fisheries.
    • Ryan, J. 1996. Plover on the run. Massachusetts Audubon Society. 31pp.
    • Sibley, D. 2014. The Sibley guide to birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY. 598 pp.
    • Skaar, P. D., D. L. Flath, and L. S. Thompson. 1985. Montana bird distribution. Montana Academy of Sciences Monograph 3(44): ii-69.
    • Skaar, P.D. 1969. Birds of the Bozeman latilong: a compilation of data concerning the birds which occur between 45 and 46 N. latitude and 111 and 112 W. longitude, with current lists for Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, impinging Montana counties and Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman, MT. 132 p.
    • Smith, W. 1989. [Results of piping plover surveys on Medicine Lake NWR and its wetlands district, 1989.]
    • Smith, W. 1990. Piping Plover survey on the Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the Northeast Montana Wetland Management District in 1990. 14pp + maps and figures
    • Stewart, R.E. 1975. Breeding birds of North Dakota. Tri-College Center for Environmental Studies, Fargo, North Dakota. 295 pp.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1988. Atlantic Coast Piping Plover Recovery Plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Newton, Mass. 77 pp.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1988. Great Lakes and Northern Great Plains piping plover recovery plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Twin Cities, Minnesota. 160 pp.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1985. Determination of endangered and threatened status for the piping plover: final rule. Federal Register 50(238):50726-50734.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1992. 1991 status update, U.S. Atlantic coast piping plover. USFWS, Northeast Region, Newton Corner, Massachusetts.
    • U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
    • Weber, L.M. and B.H. Martin. 1991. Piping Plovers nest on dry and nearly dry alkaline wetlands in the northern Great Plains 1988-1990. Prairie Nat., 23(4): 209.
    • Wiens, T. P. 1986. Nest-site tenacity and mate retention in the piping plover. MS thesis, University of Minnesota, Duluth, Minnesota. 34 pp.
    • Ziewitz, J.W., J.G. Sidle and J.J. Dinan. 1992. Habitat consevation for nesting Least Terns and Piping Plovers on the Platte River, Nebraska. Prairie Nat., 24(1): 1-20.
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Citation for data on this website:
Piping Plover — Charadrius melodus.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on July 26, 2016, from