As we reported yesterday, the second egg from Nest 5 hatched against all odds, several days after the older sibling. The chick was observed well into the evening by volunteers. It was seen struggling but would walk towards the male. It would brood briefly and the repeat the process. This was behaviour that volunteers and expert monitors had not previously seen, emphasizing the uniqueness of the situation. The parents were doing all they could to help their little one along.
This morning, the older chick was seen foraging and running about. The younger chick was tucked under the female, so monitors were unable to determine if it was as active as one might expect at 18 hours post-hatching. Around 9:15am, a crow flew in and sat nearby on the snow fencing. The female stood to defend the chick as the crow swooped down to it, and the male joined in to help her. Both used the broken wing display in an attempt to draw the crow away, but it was focused solely on the chick. After the crow took the chick, the parents stood guard to keep the remaining chick safe, chasing away gulls and a crow that returned not long after. This evening, the older chick is still safe and foraging along the shoreline.
The first 10 days of a chick’s life are especially precarious. Gulls, crows, and many other birds and mammals pose a threat, and even the most diligent parents can lose chicks. Although these are natural predators, humans can help reduce the risk of predation by refraining from feeding gulls, as this can attract them to nesting areas. We encourage beachgoers to picnic and eat snacks well away from Piping Plover nesting areas and to take trash off the beach with them.
Although the little chick only spent a short time on the beach, it had a big impact. It amazed beachgoers, volunteers, and experienced birding experts yesterday when it emerged from its shell. It beat the odds in hatching so late and surviving the night. It could spark a discussion about the timeline of egg viability and nest incubation. So, as difficult as this loss is, we are grateful to have been able to witness such an incredible story.
The remaining chick is strong and vivacious, and it has two dedicated parents. We are very hopeful for its success!