AUGUSTA — Maine wildlife officials are urging beachgoers to stay away from nests of piping plovers that are on a few beaches in southern Maine. Pets should also be kept away from nests.

Taking advantage of an early spring, piping plovers arrived early in Maine and are beginning to set up nesting territories. At least 10 pairs have already established nests and are incubating eggs.

Piping plovers are an endangered shorebird species that nest on white sand beaches, posing a constant struggle against weather, beachgoers, pets and predators. They were listed on Maine’s Endangered Species List in 1997, and were federally listed as threatened in 1986.

Piping plovers are small, pale shorebirds whose sandy brown and white colorings act as camouflage to protect them from predators.