In Manitoba, the piping plover is most consistently found nesting on broad, sparsely vegetated beaches along Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg. Piping plover nests are extremely vulnerable to predation and human disturbance. Threats to piping plovers include loss of nesting habitat due to cottage development, use of nesting beaches by cattle, all terrain vehicles, sunbathers, or other recreationalists, encroachment of vegetation, and flooding of nests or feeding areas by periodic high water levels. The nest itself is a mere scrape in the sand, lined with and camouflaged by larger pebbles.
Piping plovers have been surveyed annually by the Province since 1986. Numbers vary greatly from year to year due mainly to fluctuations in water levels and availability of nesting beaches, but have been declining considerably from approximately 130 birds in 1990 to fewer than 20 birds in recent years. The Clandeboye Bay Special Conservation Area on Lake Manitoba was set aside for breeding piping plovers in 1983. A sand spit with management improvements, located near Grand Rapids on Lake Winnipeg, was dedicated as the Walter Cook Special Conservation Area in 1994. The Area designates half the spit for piping plover nesting only, with the remainder of the spit to be used by commercial fishermen of the area. Recently Piping plover protection has become a part of the Grand Beach Provincial Park Management Plan; to help protect the birds, park staff fence off nesting areas. The piping plover was designated as Endangered by Manitoba in 1992.
For more information on the piping plover view the Manitoba's Species at Risk brochure (PDF document, 187 KB).