Maine Audubon: Snowbirds

Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) received a copy of the winter 2021/2022 Maine Audubon journal, Habitat, from SIB member Emily Ward. Emily wrote:

I regret not being able to join the birders club in any activity before we returned to Maine – the CBC was on the one day that the weather was awful for man, beast & avian! But I did get to see Piping Plovers on North Beach along with lots of terns – both of which nest here in Scarborough, ME. I’m sending Maine Audubon’s Winter Bulletin which mentions S. Carolina. I was a Plover Monitor for a few years at our nearby beach – saw chicks hatching on July 4th – and watched them grow and then fly south – perhaps to Seabrook Island.

We hope to return next winter for a short time – it is about 10 degrees today with snow on the ground but amazing sunlight and a few hardy birds.

Emily Ward, Scarborough, Maine
Map published in Maine Audubon Habitat, illustration: Ethan Roos

A section Emily highlighted from the article:

“Many shorebirds such as the Semipalmated Sandpiper migrate through Maine on their way to nesting areas in the Arctic and wintering areas in the Caribbean and Central and South America, but there’s only one that nests on the beaches of southern Maine: the Piping Plover. Piping Plovers make a scrape in the sand for a nest, typically lay four eggs, and usher their chicks around the beach searching for insects and other invertebrates in the seaweed rack and mudflats. In late summer, they depart. But to where?

“We are still learning more every year about Piping Plover migration and wintering habitat. Many of them winter on remote sandy cays that are expansive and difficult to access. In 2012 about 10% of all the Atlantic Coast population of plovers was observed at Joulter Cays in the Bahamas—a new discovery. Now, through an intensive collaborative conservation effort, the area is on its way to becoming a National Park partially due to these recent discoveries. Nesting Maine plovers have also been found wintering in South Carolina and Georgia.”

One example of a “Snowbird” is this Piping Plover, “OJ,” whose story we shared back in 2016.

Piping Plover "OJ" seen on North Beach of Seabrook Island July 22, 2016 - Aija & Ed Konrad
Piping Plover “OJ” seen on North Beach of Seabrook Island July 23-25, 2016 – Aija & Ed Konrad

Pink Flag OJ was banded November 27th 2015 in the newly created Joulter Cays National Park, just north of Andros Island in the Bahamas. The Banding Team was from Bahamas National Trust, National Audubon, Virginia Tech and USFWS.

OJ was hanging out in Maine for the breeding season, and reported on 23-May-16 on Fortune’s Rocks Beach, Maine; 20-Jun-Pink Flag OJ was banded November 27th 2015 in the newly created Joulter Cays National Park, just north of Andros Island in the Bahamas. The Banding Team was from Bahamas National Trust, National Audubon, Virginia Tech and USFWS., Parsons Beach, Kennebunk, Maine – reported to be female nesting. Unfortunately, her nesting attempt was unsuccessful; 8-Jul-16, Laudholm Beach, Wells, Maine, in a flock of about 20 other Piping Plovers.

Author: sibirders

SEABROOK ISLAND BIRDERS / “watching, learning, protecting” Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) are residents, renters and guests of Seabrook Island, SC who have an interest in learning, protecting and providing for the well-being of the incredible variety of birds that inhabit Seabrook Island throughout the year.

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