By: Scott Cook


Twitter: @JScottCook

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WLNE) -- People heading to Roger Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett this week will have to pay extra special attention to where they walk and park, as the beach has some vulnerable visitors.

Three piping plover chicks hatched Monday, from the nest their parents made in the beach parking lot.

"Plovers are shore–birds and they have short bills and go along and do surface feeding just below the sands surface," explained biologist, Jennifer White, of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The piping plover is protected under the Endangered Species Act, and plover chicks are incredibly vulnerable. Which is why the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management as well as the US Fish and Wildlife Service have been monitoring the birds and helping them make their way from the parking lot -- where their parents nested -- to the sand.

"It's a bit of a challenge because there are stairs, and bulkhead, and a wall, so we needed to try to build a pathway to the beach and then a ramp up to the beach," said White.

After hatching Monday, the birds slowly made their way down the sand path.

"Now we are watching them,” said White. “They are right at the ramp, and we're hoping they take the ramp and get up onto the beach."

Volunteers have also roped off areas of the sand, and posted signs asking beach–goers to keep away and give the birds their space.

"They'll need to be able to make their way to the wet sand to be able to forage,” said White. “There are a lot of insects and worms in the wet sand."

The Rhode Island DEM and the US Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to monitor the chicks for a few weeks until they are big and strong enough to fly.

Until then, beach–goers are asked to respect but encouraged to appreciate this rare occurrence.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2018