Update from the beach – 5 Chicks

Cheryl Ferguson Local News, Plover Lovers Committee, Sauble Beach, Updates from the Beach

Three pairs of piping plovers established nests with 4 eggs in each nest.

On Father’s Day, June 21, the first nest of 4 chicks hatched successfully.

A week later 2 chicks were predated by Ring-billed gulls. Since then the 2 chicks have been banded and have been foraging on most areas of the beach. Both three-year old parents remain vigilant with the chicks it won’t be long before Mom leaves and Dad remains behind to ensure the chicks have mastered the skill of flying. Piping plover chicks are usually left behind to find their own way to areas such as Florida, Texas or the Bahamas.

Nest #2 saw 1 chick hatch on the last day of June. The parents (female: Sauble Beach 2013 & male: Wasaga Beach 2012) continued to incubate for a couple of days. The 3 eggs have been sent to CWS for testing. The chick from that nest was amazing as it foraged with lightning speed. Unfortunately the night before it was to be banded, it disappeared. We’re unsure if a second nest attempt is in the works, but it seems a bit late in the season for that.

The 3 chicks at Nest #3 hatched on July 4th & 5th. One egg was not viable and the parents stopped incubating it on the 6th. The male is the oldest parent at Sauble Beach. He hatched at North Manitou Island in Michigan and has been nesting at Sauble Beach since 2011. He is with the youngest female on the beach who hatched at Platte South 1 in Michigan last year.

The chicks seem to be doing well while foraging from the shoreline to the dunes. They have been observed in the flattened state for approximately 20 minutes while the Mom, a real ‘drill sergeant’ stood watch over them. As of July 10, our Biologist is no longer with us but the piping plovers remain under the watchful eye of approximately 15 volunteers;  some who have volunteered from 1 day per week to 7 days per week.

A huge ‘shout out’ also goes to the many beachgoers that have connected in such a positive manner with these wee birds. People of all ages and stages have interacted with the piping plovers via the volunteers & staff of South Bruce Peninsula. Many beachgoers have their ‘eyes on the birds’ and whether or not they realize it, their assistance has been invaluable and appreciated. A big ‘thank you’ to young Molly who asked some children to stop chasing the birds and then ran down the beach to alert the volunteer Monitor that she had her brother and sister watching the missing plover until it could be located. Molly wants to help protect ‘endangered species when she grows up, she is well on her way!

There is nothing more gratifying that to watch they fledglings lift off for the sunny south. We will be holding our breath until this happens! Thank you to each and every individual who has given his or her time selflessly to this endangered species.