Select Page

2021 Piping Plover LTBB Reservation High Island

May 6 

Bill Parsons/Kevin Haynes

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Natural Resource Department (LTBB NRD) biologists boated out from Harbor Springs to High Island (NEZEWABEGON) to search for piping plovers, (Charadrius melodus) a critically endangered species on May 6, 2021. High Island is one of two Islands within the Beaver Island Archipelago which are part of the LTBB 1855 Reservation. The High Island spit has been designated as critical nesting habitat by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) for the endangered Great Lakes PIPL. LTBB NRD has been coordinating with the USFWS and monitoring PIPL with funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Circle of Flight and Endangered Species grants since 2002. 

The biologists survey the shoreline of the spit for PIPL and nests. The nests are protected by erecting a fenced exclosure over the nest to protect the four eggs for the 30 days of incubation time from predators. Once hatching the brood of four chicks and adults leave the safety of the exclosure and remain on the beach until August when the chicks fledge and migrate south to the wintering grounds. In 2020, trail camera pictures and video revealed that all three nests hatched chicks but must have been predated by the time we boated out to band the chicks on July 2, 2020.  Trail cameras also documented a lot of human disturbance and dogs near the nests at hatch time. The signs have been posted to protect the PIPL nests from disturbance.

An aerial photo of the High Island spit taken April 29, 2021 and the LTBB NRD Odawa Research boat on the spit.

Photos from 2020 showing an exclosure and nest with 3 eggs and a PIPL chick.

On May 6, 2021 a total of four piping plovers were found including 2 pairs. The first birds observed included a new female band combo (O, G: X Green dot) from Silver Lake State Park 2020 brood and a male PIPL returning for a second-year band combo (O, b: X Red dot/lt blue #326) from the High Nest #1 in 2020. No number was readable on the green band on the new female. This is a new mating pair. And the male was scraping and goose stepping.  A second pair of PIPL were spotted at the tip of the spit that included Miigaaza a female band combo (Of, GR: X, Y) that was paired two years ago with the male Biimaajii band combo (Of, YL: X, R). Both pairs were photographed and no nests were found. The biologists will return to set-up exclosures over the nests to protect from predators. The biologists posted new signs on the High Island spit to protect the sensitive nesting area from the public especially boaters with dogs.

A new mating pair was photographed including a female band combo (O, G: X Green dot) from Silver Lake State Park 2020 brood and a male PIPL returning for a second-year band combo (O, b: X Red dot/lt blue #326) from the High Nest #1 in 2020.

New signs posted on the High Island spit by LTBB NRD biologists May 6, 2021 to protect the PIPL nesting area.
Biimaajii male band combo (Of, Y L: X, R)
Biimaajii male band combo (Of, Y L: X, R)

Miigaaza female band combo (Of, G R: X, Y)

Miigaaza female band combo (Of, G R: X, Y)

What you can do to help preserve Piping Plovers on the Beaver Island Archipelago:

  • Signs have been posted on the High Island spit by the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Natural Resource Department Please respect these signs and do not enter the spit area that has been posted from April 15 to August 15, 2021
  • Exclosures are metal cages normally 4 ft x 6ft. These are to protect nesting birds. Please do not approach.  This cage allows the PIPL to come and go but keeps out predators like coyote, gulls, raven and merlin. These mid-sized exclosures are equipped with trail cameras that are pointed at the nests to monitor hatch time and the presence of predators
  • Keep your dogs on leashes during bird nesting season, especially on the island’s beaches.
  • Report human activity on the High Island spit to the LTBB NRD Conservation Enforcement Program. LTBB Conservation Officers can be reached @ 231-242-1670. Also contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife @ 517-373-1263 and Report All Poaching (RAP call or text) 800-292-7800

By the end of May, the biologists will have located the 2021 nesting sites and erected exclosures but we hope that we can count on your attention to the above request. The recovery of this iconic little shorebird is dependent of our assistance and we appreciate your assistance. For more information on High Island PIPL contact: 

Bill Parsons, Inland Fish & Wildlife Biologist

Natural Resource Department

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Office # 231-242-1670

Email – bparsons@ltbbodawa-nsn.gov

The new 2020 LTBB Conservation Enforcement boat plans to patrol and protect the Beaver Island Archipelago including High Island spit in 2021.