The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is an endangered species that nests along sand and gravel beaches. You might see them skittering along the beach where the waves wash to shore. They find food along this wash zone; usually insects or small crustaceans. Their population is estimated as less than ten thousand. A sparrow-sized bird, there are several Great Lakes beach locations in Michigan where they can easily be seen. Platte Bay and river mouth in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a good choice. So is Wilderness State Park west of Mackinaw City. Nesting areas, found in the gravel and small stones near the shoreline, are protected and often fenced off during the summer nesting period. Next time you visit one of these areas watch for the small bird running along the beach! This one was photographed with a partner last Saturday along Platte Bay.