Water levels have surged in recent years as the lakes bounced back from record-setting lows. Vincent Cavalieri of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that means narrower beaches and less room for the plover.
The most recent count last year turned up 67 breeding pairs of the sand-colored birds. That’s an improvement from the low point of 12 pairs in 1990 but a slight drop from 76 pairs two years ago.
Cavalieri says that when plovers nest farther from the water and closer to trees and bushes, they’re more vulnerable to predators such as skunks and raccoons.
Other beach-nesting species such as terns could be affected as well.