Condor’s Top Cited, #5: Renesting in Great Lakes Piping Plovers


A male Piping Plover brooding 5-day-old chicks. Photo credit: R. Eriksson

This week we continue our series highlighting our most cited papers from 2014 and 2015 with a paper from the August 2014 issue of The CondorFactors influencing nest survival and renesting by Piping Plovers in the Great Lakes region by A.H. Claassen, T.W. Arnold, E.A. Roche, S.P. Saunders, and F.J. Cuthbert.

Many birds will start over with a second clutch of eggs if their first nest fails, and conservationists have taken advantage of this, collecting the first clutches of threatened species to rear in captivity while the parents raise a second nest themselves. Claassen et al. investigated whether this would be a feasible strategy for the Great Lakes region’s Piping Plovers, tracking variation in nest initiation date, clutch size, daily nest survival, renesting propensity, and renesting intervals from 1993 to 2010.

49% of all individuals renested after failure of an earlier nest, but renests were less productive than initial nests due to the negative effects of being initiated later in the season. Older birds tended to initiate their nests sooner and be more successful, but nest survival and the likelihood of renesting were also strongly influenced by seasonal variation.

The results of this study suggest that removing clutches for captive rearing would lead to fewer 1-year-old Piping Plovers recruited into the Great Lakes population than leaving clutches in situ. For this species, clutch removal is not recommended as a strategy, and instead managers should focus on nest protection efforts such as predator control.

Read the full paper at