SCARBOROUGH, Maine — If you're heading to the beach, you'll notice more protected zones than you may have seen in the past, as the number of nesting piping plovers hits another high.

Laura Minich Zitske, Director of the Piping Plover and Least Tern Project, says there are at least 85 pairs of nesting piping plovers in the state of Maine.

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That beats the record of 68 last year.

Just a few years ago, that number was closer to 40.

Biologists are walking southern Maine beaches each day on the lookout for the endangered bird.

Even though there's been a substantial increase, the protection efforts are still very important, given 85 pairs is still less than 200 plovers.

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Zitske, her colleagues at Maine Audubon, the Maine Warden Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service monitor over two dozen beaches in the state.

The birds nest in late April and May, far before beach season. Now that locals are heading to the beach in the warmer weather, they'll see these signs and are reminded to stay away from the protected areas.

After the chicks hatch, it takes about a month to learn to fly.