Thursday, July 14, 2011

Piping Plover

This little guy is one of this year’s Piping Plover chicks. It is a big world for such a little ball of fluff. We are fortunate that we have this bird in Massachusetts. After I moved to Massachusetts I saw my ©2011 Steve Borichevskyfirst Piping Plover. I was very surprised. One of my references from 1988 describes the population as being in decline with only 20 pairs in the Great Lakes region and fewer than 1000 breading pair on the Atlantic coast.

Plovers arrive on the breeding grounds during mid-March through mid-May and remain for 3 to 4 months per year. They lay 3 to 4 eggs in shallow scraped depressions lined with light colored pebbles and shell fragments.

Plovers depart for the wintering grounds from mid-July through late October. They use beaches adjacent to foraging. Small sand dunes, debris, and sparse vegetation within adjacent beaches provides shelter from wind and extreme temperatures.

In 2006, the total winter population was estimated to be 3,884. In Massachusetts, the survival rate was estimated to be 74%.

The reason for the decline of the Piping Plover is quite simple. We enjoy the same habitat that they do. The Piping Plover uses sandy costal are river areas for habitat. Development not only have resulted in habitat loss but have brought other threats not limited to our disturbances and pets but our activities bring skunks, foxes and raccoons closer to the habitat.

So this little guy has a tough row to hoe. The beach that I go to has a few pairs that are producing chicks. And what fabulous little birds these are. When I’m walking the beach I see them foraging around for food. Piping plover 25 May 08 040I always have it in the back of of my mind that they are under great pressure to survive as a species and therefor I try to keep my disturbance to a minimum. Every Piping Plover shot you see here is the result of me walking normally on the beach, getting from point A to point B as anyone else would be. That means I’m behaving in a predictable, non-threatening way and I don’t linger waiting for a better shot.

Sometimes I luck out as with the photo below. Becky and I were laying on the beach and a pair of chicks came foraging towards us. They went about their business and all was cool.

©2011 Steve Borichevsky

Here is a juvenile walking down towards the shoreline.

©2011 Steve Borichevsky

©2011 Steve Borichevsky

Above and below are late breeding plumage adults.

©2011 Steve Borichevsky


mari said...

Хорошие фотографии и подробное сопровождение! Спасибо!

forestal said...

Wonderful post and photos Steve


Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Here in California the western snowy plover has the same problems. I have come across many areas in State Parks that are roped off in order to provide undisturbed nesting areas for the birds. Of course, this only keeps the humans out. Great shots.

Roy said...

Thanks for showing us this sweet little bird Steve.

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