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Old 07-18-2017, 10:40 AM
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IBSP Piping Plover Update

The following is from NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife Endangered and Nongame Species Program biologist Christina Davis:

I bring you good news of a chick that is still alive! He hit the 2 week mark this past weekend and we are starting to see him phase out of the "itty bitty" stage (scientifically speaking �� ). He has become bolder this week, leaving the foredune for long periods to forage at the wrack line and intertidal zone (this is where the really good stuff is for plovers!). As is the norm with the species at this time of year, it appears the female (nicknamed Diane by the volunteers) has left the site. Later in the season, we will often see the females leave the unfledged chicks in the capable hands of the males -- females have spent a lot of energy on egg production (although this was a one egg nest we do not know how many other eggs the female laid this year -- it is highly probable this was not the only egg she laid) and they need to build up their reserves before migration. In fact, many females at other sites have "flown the coop".

The male (nicknamed Pete by the volunteers) continues as a standout father. He is protective of the chick, but is not an overly anxious parent. He stays in constant contact with the chick , but does give him some space to wander and explore his surroundings. All plovers parent differently, with some being more tightly wound than others (just like people!). I suspect that Diane and Pete's low key version of parenting has helped hide the chick from potential predators -- a more vocal adult can unwittingly help predators key in on their young.

This week was especially gratifying because we were able to introduce a new generation to this wonderful species! I met with a NJ Audubon camp, who are staying at the charming Sedge House, for a morning of plover discovery. There was one burgeoning birder in the group, an 11-year old who declared it was his dream to see a Piping Plover! You got it, buddy! The fantastic camp counselors were able to pull together a trip to the jetty where we showed them the brood and introduced them to beach nesting birds. It was an extremely satisfying morning (the kids were amazed at the size of the chick and enjoyed searching for it!) and I want to thank the DFW staff at Sedge as well as those at NJ Audubon for allowing us the opportunity to share with them the joy of birding.
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