Aija and I send photos of banded Piping Plovers that we spot on North Beach to Alice Van Zoeren, Great Lakes Piping Plover Conservation Team, so the researchers know the whereabouts of their wintering birds. Great Lakes Piping Plovers are Federal Endangered. They have orange flags, and then other various color bands, to identify them. Alice reports back to us interesting info from their breeding area. From this info you can see the researchers’ dedication, and the challenges the Piping Plovers face.
The three banded Piping Plovers below, spotted on North Beach July 24-25, were the first we’ve seen this year on their journey south to winter after breeding. Remember, there are less than 70 breeding pairs remaining in the Great Lakes area endangered population. These three are very special guests indeed! We learned from Alice…
“This is a Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore, MI, breeder. He began breeding in 2018 at Platte Point. This year Platte Point is under water and he moved about two miles north. He fledged two chicks.” (Bands: Left leg – orange flag, red/green bands. Right leg – silver metal, yellow bands)
“Hatched 2010 at Sleeping Bear Dunes, mouth of Platte River. She began breeding in 2011 at Manistee MI. In 2012 moved to North Manitou Island, where she’s been breeding ever since. She had a rough summer this year. She and her mate lost all the newly hatched chicks from their first attempt to an unknown predator. They put in a second nest, but it was quite late and they headed south before the eggs hatched.” (Bands: Left leg – orange flag, two black bands. Right leg – silver metal, blue bands)
“Hatched 2017 on North Manitou Island, MI. He returned to begin breeding in 2018 at Wilderness State Park MI.” (Bands: Left leg – orange flag, black/blue bands. Right leg – silver metal, green bands)
In July we spotted three other Piping Plovers that weren’t banded. The one in the right photo is a “first year bird”, a juvenile hatched this year making its first trip south to winter. Note the differences to the left photo of mature birds – juvenile has black bill, partial collar, paler plumage.
Some of our July Piping Plovers may remain at Seabrook for the “winter” until they head back north next spring to breed. Others may have stopped here to rest before continuing to wintering beaches further south. Aija and I will keep an eye out, and let you know if any of the three banded Great Lakes Piping Plovers remain as our guests for the next 8 months. Plus others we spot from the Great Lakes or Atlantic breeding areas. Look for the Piping Plovers too, and please give them space to feed and rest. They can be feeding anywhere along the shore to right of Boardwalk #1, or left of Boardwalk #1 all the way to the point.
Article and Photos by Ed Konrad