It's looking like another good year for piping plovers in Massachusetts.
Almost a thousand pairs nested on the state's coastline, according to preliminary numbers from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. That's slightly higher than what the state saw last year, continuing an upward trend over the last decade.
Plovers are a threatened species, protected by federal and state law. They nest directly on the sand of beaches across Massachusetts. Each pair raises, on average, 1.25 chicks.
How the population does year-to-year depends on many factors, some outside of human control, like weather and storms. But Lyra Brennan, director of the Coastal Waterbird Program (CWP) at Mass Audubon — one of the organizations charged with protecting the birds — said there's lots that people do have control over.
"In terms of other things like human disturbance, dog disturbance, disturbance from kites, which they mistake as predators ... there's actually a lot of things that we can do to ensure better success and to support these birds while they're here during the breeding season," she said.
"We have such a big successful population of them, and it's part of our conservation identity here on the coast of Massachusetts and something we should be really proud of," she said.
Wildlife groups in Maine also saw record numbers of plovers this summer.