The Piping plover, scientifically known as Charadrius melodus, is a small shorebird which is sparrow-sized. Its name is due to the plaintive bell-like whistle which can be heard when this bird is around. There are two subspecies of this bird identified till now, the eastern Atlantic coast population (scientifically called as Charadrius melodus melodus) and the mid-west Great plain population (scientific name Charadrius melodus circumcinctus). They can be seen on sandy beaches on the coast and in dry, sandy areas in land. These birds breed on beaches on the Atlantic coast and the shores of many Great lakes. They are found using start and stop walking method.
The Piping plover is a tiny bird ranging from 17-18 cm in length. It has a wingspan of 18-19 cm and an adult plover weighs around only 43-45 grams. It often blends quite well enough with the sandy beaches due to its body color. If the birds body is split horizontally into lower and upper part respectively; then lower half is white in color and upper part is gray, which helps it to mix with the peripheral environment. The legs become yellowish orange in color with maturity. There are black band like coloration in between both the eyes and around the neck. The bill is orange having a black colored tip. The diet consists of insects, marine worms, crustaceans and mollusks.
The present population of the Piping plover is estimated to be around 6,410 (only the Atlantic coast subspecies counted about 3,350). Although there is marked increment in the population of this bird since 1991, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has listed this species under the Species at Risk act. It is also listed as endangered in many states like Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Regional declination in numbers may include several factors including human disturbance, loss of habitat, and predation.