Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Breeding sites and winter site fidelity of Piping Plovers wintering in The Bahamas, a previously unknown major wintering area

March 1, 2016

Most of the known wintering areas of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) are along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States and into Mexico, and in the Caribbean. However, 1066 threatened/endangered Piping Plovers were recently found wintering in The Bahamas, an area not previously known to be important for the species. Although representing about 27% of the birds counted during the 2011 International Piping Plover Winter Census, the location of their breeding site(s) was unknown. Thus, our objectives were to determine the location(s) of their breeding site(s) using molecular markers and by tracking banded individuals, identify spring and fall staging sites, and examine site fidelity and survival. We captured and color-banded 57 birds in January and February 2010 in The Bahamas. Blood samples were also collected for genetic evaluation of the likely subspecies wintering in The Bahamas. Band re-sightings and DNA analysis revealed that at least 95% of the Piping Plovers wintering in The Bahamas originated on the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada. Re-sightings of birds banded in The Bahamas spanned the breeding distribution of the species along the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland to North Carolina. Site fidelity to breeding and wintering sites was high (88–100%). Spring and fall staging sites were located along the Atlantic coast of the United States, with marked birds concentrating in the Carolinas. Our estimate of true survival for the marked birds was 0.71 (95% CI: 0.61–0.80). Our results indicate that more than one third of the Piping Plover population that breeds along the Atlantic coast winters in The Bahamas. By determining the importance of The Bahamas to the Atlantic subspecies of Piping Plovers, future conservation efforts for these populations can be better focused on where they are most needed.

Publication Year 2016
Title Breeding sites and winter site fidelity of Piping Plovers wintering in The Bahamas, a previously unknown major wintering area
DOI 10.1111/jofo.12131
Authors Cheri Gratto-Trevor, Susan M. Haig, Mark P. Miller, Thomas D. Mullins, Sidney Maddock, Erin A. Roche, Predensa Moore
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Field Ornithology
Index ID 70159782
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center; Contaminant Biology Program