BERLIN, Md. (AP) — National Park Service officials say piping plover mating season has begun at Assateague Island National Seashore.

Superintendent Trish Kicklighter says the small shorebird has returned to the island. It’s Maryland’s only piping plover nesting site and one of the densest breeding areas on the Eastern seaboard.

The piping plover is threatened with extinction due to the loss of its natural beach breeding habitat along much of the East Coast.

Since plovers are easily disturbed by humans, the park service will close some areas to visitors. The interior portion of northern Assateague Island, including much of the island north of Assateague State Park, will be closed to public use until the young birds can fly. The breeding season lasts until the birds migrate south in August and September.

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