Piping Plover chick

A surviving Piping Plover chick after the Memorial Day weekend storms.

MILFORD, CT (WFSB) - Coastal flooding over the Memorial Day weekend helped wipe out more than a dozen nests in Milford that belonged to endangered birds.

The Connecticut Audubon Society reported that the nests were found to have been washed away from Milford Point.

In addition to the rain, full-moon-related high tides also contributed, the group said.

Piping Plovers, American Oystercatchers, Least Terns, and Common Terns are the endangered or threatened birds that nest in the area.

Piping Plover nest exclosure after the memorial day weekend storms.

Piping Plover nest exclosure after the Memorial Day weekend storms. 

They nest only on beaches, so even in the best of times their habitat is limited.

The tides flooded the Milford Point sandbar and eroded its higher elevations. The sandbar is now smaller with significantly less habitat for the birds, according to the group.

Before the storms, there were 13 pairs of Piping Plovers at Milford Point, and 10 of those pairs were nesting. Four pairs of American Oystercatchers were nesting as well.

Nine pairs of birds have since tried to nest again, which meant that the nesting season might not be a total loss.

However, the Audubon Society asked visitors to the area to take extra care and not disturb any visible nests.

“These birds all have small, vulnerable populations, and they’re protected by the federal and state government," said Patrick Comins, executive director, Connecticut Audubon Society. "We know that everybody cares about their well-being but that still requires visitors to observe the signs and fences we’ve put up to protect the birds, and to heed the instructions of our staff on the beach to keep your distance.”

Piping Plover nests are well camouflaged, the group warned. People walking on the beach can inadvertently step on them. When the birds are incubating their eggs, walkers who come too close can drive them off the nests, leaving the eggs at the risk to predators and to hot or cold weather.

When the eggs hatch, the babies are tiny, out on their own, and vulnerable to numerous threats.

Connecticut Audubon asked visitors to keep their distance from nesting and roosting birds.

Copyright 2021 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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