A piping plover. Credit: Courtesy of Bob Duchesne

A record number of piping plovers are nesting in Maine so far this year, according to a Maine-based wildlife conservation organization.

Maine Audubon has spotted 100 pairs and 61 active nests in the state, the Portland Press Herald reports. Last year, the group found a record 89 nesting pairs and 175 fledged chicks. The number of endangered birds have been increasing in recent years.

Laura Minich Zitske, director of the organization’s piping plovers project, said she credits the population growth to partnerships between Maine Audubon and the state, as well as volunteers and towns who have been working to protect the birds. There are now more than two dozen Maine beaches being monitored for plovers, she said.

Not all nests are marked with signs and fencing, so beachgoers should keep a distance from the birds and their nests as beaches reopen, experts said.