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Piping Plover Volunteers – Ontario

Bird Studies Canada is looking for volunteers to help with Piping Plover monitoring and outreach at some of Ontario’s nicest beaches this summer.

The Piping Plover is a small endangered shorebird that nests on sandy beaches along the Great Lakes. When the chicks hatch, they are able to run along the shores and feed themselves within hours, but take several weeks to learn to fly. Plovers are vulnerable to predators such as dogs, foxes, and gulls, and to human disturbance from beach goers. Exclosures are placed over nests to provide protection from predators. Perimeter fencing is also set up around the nests so that plovers have a safe space to incubate.

How we help

Inspire positive behaviours on the beaches. Volunteers share their knowledge and excitement about Piping Plovers with beach goers. Volunteers may hand out brochures, answer questions about the birds, help people spot the plovers, and share an enthusiasm for beach conservation!

Collect scientific data. Volunteers observe the nests and record the behaviours of the Piping Plovers, beach goers, and predators. They fill out a simple data sheet, which is used to evaluate recovery efforts and learn more about the species.

Volunteers may have the opportunity to assist with other activities such as installing signage, and perimeter fencing—with direct supervision of the Piping Plover Coordinator at each site.

Position Responsibilities

  • Volunteers will be expected to work shifts up to 4 hours long, standing up, in a variety of weather conditions.
  • Attention to detail and accuracy is required when recording data.
  • Volunteers must be willing to communicate with the public, in a respectful and courteous manner, following guidelines put in place for volunteers.
  • The Piping Plover is protected federally and provincially. It is essential that volunteers follow all guidelines put in place by coordinators, to ensure the safety of the birds.
  • Binoculars and scopes are not available at all locations, and volunteers may need to supply their own.  Volunteers are responsible for their own transport.
  • Appropriate clothing must be worn at all times (no swim wear).

Perks

  • You will be providing much needed support to a wonderful endangered species.
  • You will meet likeminded individuals and nature enthusiasts. Get lots of fresh air and Vitamin D in a beautiful setting.
  • You will gain experience with public education, working with a Species at Risk, and scientific monitoring. After 40 hours of volunteering with good performance, you will be eligible for a reference letter from Bird Studies Canada.
  • Families, and volunteers wishing to work in teams of two are welcome. Students who need community involvement hours are encouraged to volunteer, you can even bring a friend!
  • Parking passes may be available to committed volunteers on a site by site basis.

Volunteers are needed from mid-May to early August at a number of locations throughout Ontario. Positions will be available at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park and Sauble Beach. Other possible nesting locations include Toronto Island and some provincial parks on Lake Ontario: Darlington (near Oshawa), Presqu’ile (near Brighton), Sandbanks and North Beach (in Prince Edward County).  Locations change each year— the plovers will be selecting their favorite beaches from mid-April to May.

Volunteers will work in shifts to monitor nests and educate the public. Shifts are available all day (8 a.m. – 9 p.m.), every day, usually for four hours at a time. Preference will be given to candidates willing to commit to a minimum of five shifts throughout the summer. You’ll receive training and support from local volunteer organizations, Bird Studies Canada, and Ontario Parks (when volunteering in provincial parks).  Volunteer training sessions will be held in May.

Heat, UV rays, and bugs are common hazards on beaches. Volunteers should use due diligence to ensure their own safety, including the use of sunscreen and a hat. Volunteers may on occasion be alone on a beach, and should always have a cell phone for personal safety.

For more information about Piping Plovers and the volunteer position, please visit: birdscanada.org/ontarioplovers

If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about nesting sites near you, please contact Andrea Gress at ontarioplovers@birdscanada.org or (519) 586-3531 ext. 128.

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Bird Studies Canada P.O. Box 160, 115 Front St., Port Rowan, ON Canada N0E 1M0
Phone:1-888-448-2473 Fax: 1-519-586-3532 E-mail: generalinfo@birdscanada.org