RARE GEMS: PIPING PLOVERS ON ABACO (1)
That’s the total number of all the piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) left in the world. Like many other rare and vulnerable species (e.g. the Kirtland’s Warbler), the habitat at both ends of their migration routes is under threat. And, as with the Kirtland’s, vigorous conservation campaigns are underway. Problems such as habitat loss at one end are bad enough – if at both ends, population decline is a certainty and extinction looms. The summer breeding range of PIPLs takes in Canada, central US and the eastern seaboard. In winter they join the mass migration of other birds south to warmer climes. Abaco is lucky enough to receive these little winter visitors; and at Delphi we are fortunate that every year some choose the beach for their winter retreat.
This is the first of a planned Piping Plover series that I have been working on. The reason for beginning now is because the autumn migrations are starting, and before long a few of this precious species will be on a beach near you on Abaco. Many of them will be ringed as part of the ongoing conservation projects. One of the best ways to monitor success is to follow the migratory lives of these birds; and this can very easily be done by taking photographs of a piping plover that show its rings. The number and colours of the rings on each leg tell the conservationists a great deal about an individual bird. Here is a photo by Don Freiday that shows what to look out for – these 4 items of plover-bling are an integral part of the preservation efforts for this species.
The Audubon Society has produced a wonderful interactive demonstration of the PIPL’s year-round life that can be found at BEATING THE ODDS. For anyone interested in these fascinating little birds, I highly recommend a click on the link. Some clips are shown below.
A good example of one of the organisations involved in the conservation of PIPLs is CONSERVE WILDLIFE NEW JERSEY, of which Todd Pover and Stephanie Egger are also directly involved on both Abaco and with the CAPE ELEUTHERA INSTITUTE.
With due acknowledgement to Audubon, here are a couple of outstanding photos by Shawn Carey from the site; and below them, details of the range of the Piping Plovers and their 4000-odd mile two-way trip made in the course of each year.
TWO LEGS SIX LEGS
THE PIPING OF THE PLOVER Originator Lang Elliot, as featured by Audubon, eNature, Birdwatchers Digest etc
That’s enough to begin with. I will return to PIPLs soon, with more photos, information and links. Meanwhile, here is a great 4-minute video from Plymouth Beach MA. And if you see a Piping Plover on Abaco this autumn and are not part of the ‘bird count community’, please let me know the location; if you can, describe the rings – how many, which legs, what colour; if possible, photograph the bird (and – a big ask – try to include the legs). Whether ringed or not, all data is invaluable and I’ll pass it on.
Credits with thanks: Bruce Hallett, Cornell Lab, Tony Hepburn, Don Freiday, Shawn Carey, Audubon, Beaun/wiki, Lang Elliott (audio) Migration Productions (video), Artmagenta (mini drawings)
Reblogged this on Wolf's Birding and Bonsai Blog.
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great education about birds and Bahamas!
Hi, glad you liked the post. These really are the cutest of birds, and deserve protection. Thanks for calling in at Rolling Harbour.
It saddens me every time I read something else is strugling to survive
I agree. But it’s encouraging that at least some vulnerable / threatened species attract serious conservation support before it’s too late. Usually the cute ones, it has to be said…
Adorable birds RH – fascinating story and I look forward to finding out more about the conservation efforts… Many people would like to help – perhaps some information on ways we can assist would be well received? Kind regards – metiefly
Adorable indeed, Mark, and well worth protecting! Luckily, lots of people now think so too so the conservation effort is considerable. Thanks for the suggestion of info on ways to help, I’ll put some more links in the next post. RH
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I found your post very informative, RH, and that video is great. Watching those tiny chicks pop out from under their parent is really sweet. Nice to know these rarities are reproducing. 🙂
In amongst the cr@p on Youtube, there are some excellent short wildlife vids – and this is one. It looks as though protection schemes are having a good effect but I’d be interested to know the world population 20 years back, before habitat interference got serious!