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Everything You Want to Know About Piping Plovers

Duxbury Beach serves as a vital nesting ground for the threatened  piping plover, and is home to one of the largest nesting populations  in the country.

Piping Plovers are small sand-colored, sparrow-sized shorebirds that nest and feed along coastal sand and gravel beaches. There are roughly 8,000 piping plovers in the entire world and are both state and federally protected.

Piping plovers construct their nests by scraping small depressions in the sand, and both the male and female birds take turns incubating the eggs. It is crucial to ensure their habitat is undisturbed to maximize their chances of successfully raising their chicks.

How long does hatching and fledging take for piping plovers?

Females lay four eggs that hatch in about 25 days, and chicks learn to fly (fledge) after 28- 35 days. These birds are born with adult size legs and feet and spend their time on the beach running, feeding, and resting. 

Why does the beach close?

  • State or federal mandated setbacks for nests impact crossovers, pathways, or parking lots

  • State or federal mandated setbacks for chicks impact crossovers and/or OSV area

  • Chicks have entered the road or parking lot


How do piping plovers impact access?

The stages/timeline of the nests/hatchlings will determine the restrictions per state and federal regulations.

  • Nests

    • Nests require 50m radius of protection from people and vehicles

  • Hatchlings

    • For the first week after leaving the nest, hatchlings require 200m radius of protection from vehicles

    • After the first week, the protection area can be reevaluated and may decrease to a 100m radius. This re-measurement is only allowed if the hatchlings do not travel part the 100m radius in their first week of life


If any of these areas of protection for chicks overlap a crossover, the crossover will need to be closed until the chicks fledge (fly away). The quicker they fledge, the quicker the crossovers can be reopened. 

What are the piping plovers doing this year?

We have more plovers on the beach than ever before, but they are also nesting/hatching earlier than ever before. This earlier timeline could lead to the crossovers being reopened ahead of last year’s window. DBRs goal is “One and Done”. This means having the plovers nest, hatch, and fledge as quickly as possible. If a nest is disturbed before the plovers hatch, a pair of plovers will try up to four more times, restarting the timeline each time.



We kindly ask all beachgoers to be mindful of their impact on the piping plovers and their habitat. Please avoid venturing into restricted areas, keep dogs on leashes and follow posted closures.

So, whether you're an avid birdwatcher, a lover of nature, or simply seeking tranquility amidst stunning coastal scenery, Duxbury Beach welcomes you. Come and discover the magic of this natural habitat, and join us in safeguarding the beach and the presence of plovers for generations to come.

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