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New nesting habitat created at Muskegon State Park for endangered species Piping Plover pair

Great Lakes Piping Plover photo

In the late 1980s, the Great Lakes Piping Plover was nearly extinct. There were only 10 known pairs. Slowly, the endangered species has made a comeback. There are 67 pairs today. One those couples calls Muskegon State Park home. WGVU stopped by where two new nesting areas are being established.

“The Plover, a lot of gray, black and white coloration on its wings and it's back. A small little bird, but a very important for to our ecosystem here on the Great Lakes. This area here is kind of an experiment. We're going to encourage them hopefully to make their nest over in this area."

Matt Schwemin has been the lead worker at Muskegon State Park for about 15 years for the Michigan DNR Parks and Rec Division.  He brings me to the park’s main, day-use beach area – known to locals as the beach house.

“Also, where the Great Lakes piping plover likes to make its home.”

This is where a dump truck of pea gravel is rolled in. With buckets in hand, a dozen DTE Energy volunteers spread it over the sand.

“It doesn't look like for doing a whole lot. But what if he grabbed will or what. What is known as cobble. It is very similar to what their wing and body coloration. It's their main defense mechanism when a predator, they feel threatened, they actually hunker down and because the bird is already kind of small in the first place. They almost disappear.”

The pair of Plovers will nest in May and lay eggs. The female will migrate south by mid-July. The male will raise the chicks and follow his mate in late August.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.