Coastal Ecology Program

Endangered Species Program

The Duxbury Beach Coastal Ecology Program (including the Duxbury Beach Endangered Species Program as of January 2020) is an important part of spring and summer beach operations.  Duxbury Beach is uniquely suited as nesting habitat for listed beach nesting birds, including the piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and least tern (Sternula antillarum). 


The management in place for nesting piping plovers and least terns is outlined in the Reservation's Certificate of Inclusion in the statewide Habitat Conservation Plan for Piping Plovers and is carried out by the Reservation's Coastal Ecology Program staff and Town of Duxbury Beach Operations.

Twenty-five pairs of piping plovers nested along Duxbury Beach, from Duxbury Beach Park to the Gurnet Guardhouse in 2020.  This number represents a decrease from 2019, when 28 pairs nested on the beach.  Productivity increased from 1.64 chicks fledged/pair in 2019 to 2.23 chicks fledged/pair in 2020.  This is the highest productivity on the beach since 2003!

Beachgoers can learn more how they can protect the piping plovers while recreating on Duxbury Beach by viewing the Duxbury Beach Piping Plover Guide.  This Guide is provided to all who purchase stickers from the Town of Duxbury.


299 least terns pairs nested in five areas in 2020, compared to 159 pairs in 2019.  The terns produced 211 fledglings, compared to 134 in 2019.

Least terns nest in colonies and are listed as a Species of Special Concern under the MA Endangered Species Act.  To learn more about least terns, check out our blog article "What's With Least Terns?"

Beach Status

Click here to
see the latest beach status information
from the
Duxbury Beach Operations Division.


The Reservation funds and manages an intensive monitoring program every spring and summer in order to protect nesting birds and allow recreation on the beach.  To learn more about the program and the transition to DBR management, check out our blog article "Coastal Ecology Program & Endangered Species Program Update."

Each season DBR hires 40+ staff to contribute to the protection and data collection.  To see available positions, click here.


Duxbury Beach provides ideal habitat for piping plovers because of its oceanside nesting areas and prime bayside foraging.  Unfortunately, along much of the Atlantic Coast this nesting habitat overlaps with where humans want to recreate.  

The Reservation worked with MassWildlife for three decades creating replicated nesting habitat.  The goal was to provide nesting areas with access to the bayside and away from recreation.  To learn more, check out our blog article "Working with the Plovers: Creation of Replicated Nesting Habitat."


Predator management can be controversial, challenging, and may even seem counter-intuitive to many. However, it is an important conservation tool used on many sites in a heavily human-impacted landscape. 


There are many misconceptions about this highly regulated and science driven work.  To learn more about why predator management is used on Duxbury Beach and how it is required in order to allow recreation, read more here.