September 16 is Plover Appreciation Day, so we decided to share some fun facts about plovers and some photos of plovers on Sauble Beach to celebrate!
Plovers are also known as the Family Charadriidae, and they have thicker necks with shorter bills compared to most sandpipers. Below you can see a Sanderling (sandpiper) on the right and a Semipalmated Plover (plover) on the left to compare!
- Semipalmated Plover
Plovers are found all over the world, and there are 9 species of nesting plovers native to North America!
Although many people think that plovers do not fly because they only see them running along beaches in the summer, plovers are able to fly incredible distances during the migration season. American Golden Plovers have one of the longest migratory journey of any shorebird, breeding in the high Arctic tundra of Canada and Alaska and flying nonstop offshore of eastern North America to South American to overwinter! Our own Piping Plovers are able to make the long trek to Florida each fall to avoid the winter winds in Ontario.
Piping Plover chicks are precocial, which means that they are able to run and forage very soon after they hatch! These independent little birds still depend on their courageous parents to defend them from gulls, crows, and Merlins, along with other predators they may encounter on the beach. Plovers also perform what is called a ‘broken wing display’ to protect their young, in which they pretend to have an injured wing in order to lure would-be predators away from their nests and chicks.
More fun facts about North American Plovers!
– Although it is difficult to see in the field, the Black-bellied Plovers is the only American plover to have a hind toe on its foot.
– Pacific Golden-Plovers cover nearly half of the earth’s circumference with their wintering range that extends from California, to Hawaii, Asia, and northeastern Africa.
– Female Snowy Plovers desert their mates about the time that their chicks hatch and initiates a new breeding attempt each season, often raising two and sometimes three broods a year in places where there is a long breeding season.
– The Wilson’s Plover has a large, thick bill which allows it to catch and eat larger prey items than other plovers on the beach.
– Plovers can swim! Semipalmated Plovers have been seen swimming short distances across small water channels during foraging while on migration. Chicks also swim short distances to follow parents to small islets on shallow lakes.
– The Mountain Plover uses prairie dog towns to provide suitable breeding habitat in areas of longer grasses.
– Killdeer get their name from the shrill, wailing kill-deer call they give so often. Eighteenth-century naturalists also noticed how noisy Killdeer are, giving them names such as the Chattering Plover and the Noisy Plover.
Facts retrieved from Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds
Hopefully you’re becoming an even more enthusiastic Plover Lover, because while we appreciate these shorebirds, we must also recognize that they need our help! Piping Plovers are not the only plovers that are classified as species at risk. So today, let’s celebrate and learn more about these amazing birds so that we can begin to help them by sharing space and giving our support to those working to protect them!
While spending time on the beach this year, we decided to take some videos! For those of you who were not able to be on the beach this summer, we hope that these videos will allow you to feel like you were. For everyone that was on the beach with us this summer, maybe you’ll be able to relive some of your favourite moments while watching these videos! More videos will be posted in the coming weeks, so be sure to subscribe to the channel and check out the new videos!
Last night, the Plover Lovers and interested individuals from the community came together to celebrate the season we have had and reflect upon our experiences. After an introduction from Stewardship Grey Bruce and Piping Plover Committee Chair, Norah Toth, the Ministry of Natural Resources Plover Technician shared findings from the summer season. Plover Lovers were then very excited to announce that the Ontario Field Ornithologists are awarding Don Kennedy with a Certificate of Appreciation for his dedication to protecting Piping Plovers in Sauble Beach. Although Don is not an official volunteer, he is integral to the Plover Lovers program as he spends every morning of the spring and summer checking the beach and sending out emails to let everyone know what the plovers are up to. Don is always the first to find the spring arrivals, eggs, nests, and confirm the numbers of chicks on the beach, and we are inspired and grateful for his dedication.
Alicia Fortin, Outreach and Education Coordinator then shared some of the videos and experiences that Volunteer Monitors shared on the beach this summer. While the Plover Lovers are always looking for more Volunteer Monitors, we had an incredibly dedicated group this summer.
With only a small number of Volunteer Monitors, here are some of our statistics from this summer on the beach:
– 711 hours of official volunteer monitoring hours on the beach
– 1496-2662 people spoken with on the beach (Volunteer monitors have ranges to select on data sheets for number of people spoken to) and almost all were supportive of the recovery program
– 135 ecotourists visited Sauble Beach specifically to see the Piping Plovers this summer
– 3936 tattoos, stickers, brochures, information cards, postcards, colouring sheets and word searches were handed out
The successful outreach this summer would not have been possible without the dedication of all of the Volunteer Monitors and the unofficial volunteers who spend time on the beach. They continue each summer to encourage people to see the beauty and excitement in the beach and the diverse species that depend upon it. We also wish to thank the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Town of South Bruce Peninsula for their support and recognition of the importance of the endangered Piping Plovers on Sauble Beach. Thank you to Rev. Ted Creen and Huron Feathers Presbyterian Centre for generously allowing us to use the Centre for our Beach Talks, Volunteer Training, and Wrap-Up events. And finally, we wish to recognize Stewardship Grey-Bruce and the Piping Plover Committee for their dedication to creating a sustainable community and supporting local conservation and environmental outreach initiatives.
We hope everyone has a fantastic fall and we hope to see you again in the spring!
Although the Piping Plovers may have left the Sauble Beach area for the summer, there are still many opportunities to brush up on your shoreline knowledge! Attend one of the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation Coastal Community Workshops taking place in Saugeen Shores and Point Clark on August 15 and 22 respectively.
Alicia Fortin, Plover Lovers Outreach and Education Coordinator will be at MacGregor Point Provincial Park to speak about Piping Plovers and species at risk on August 22. The presentation begins at 7:00pm. If you are unable to attend or have more questions at our 2017 Wrap-up Celebration on August 23 (beginning at 6:30pm at Huron Feathers in Sauble Beach), you can also find Alicia at Pioneer Park in Southampton at 7:00pm (see the poster below or click here for more information!
Learn more about both Piping Plovers and the coastal environments they depend upon in these local workshops and presentations!
At long last, we have had to bid a reluctant but fond farewell to the ‘Sauble Seven.’ That’s right, the Sauble Beach 2017 Piping Plover fledglings have left Sauble and are on their way south for the winter.
Now that the fledglings are safely on their way, we can provide a season summary for all of you eager number crunchers. Here are the stats:
– 13 adults passed through Sauble Beach
– 9 known adults stayed to build nests
– 4 nests were built, with 4 eggs each (and one pseudo nest with only 1 egg laid before it was abandoned), for a total of 17 eggs laid
– Nest 4 clutch of eggs was lost to small mammalian predator June 8
– 12 chicks hatched between June 16 and 23
– All Nest 2 chicks lost, likely to gulls by June 30
– 1 Nest 3 chick lost to a gull
– 7 chicks (from Nest 1 and Nest 3) fledged between June 15 and 21
– All adults left the beach by July 29
– All 7 fledglings left the beach by August 9
For more stories about the Piping Plovers this summer and to celebrate their successes, join us Wednesday, August 23 at 6:30pm at Huron Feathers Presbyterian Centre for our Wrap-Up Celebration! The Piping Plovers have continued to delight and surprise us on Sauble Beach, and we are looking forward to sharing stories from this summer. We would like to extend a big thank you to volunteers and Plover Lovers at large, municipal and enforcement staff, the MNRF, and beachgoers for the interest, care, and dedication you have shown to protecting one of Ontario’s amazing species at risk and for sharing the shore. We look forward to more successful seasons in the years to come as we all work to build understanding and compassion for the environment we live in.
With last evening’s presentation from Tineasha Brenot from the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, we wrapped up our summer 2017 Beach Talk Speaker Series. Just in case you missed Tineasha’s talk, here are some highlights!
Coastal Ecosystems and Turtles
Tineasha Brenot led us through an exciting peek into the lives of Ontario’s eight species of turtles. We learned about Snapping Turtles and their small plastrons that do not allow them to hide in their shells. We were interested to learn that Northern Map Turtles will actually eat invasive zebra mussels in Lake Huron! We also talked about the Spiny Softshell turtle, with its soft shell and nose that acts as a snorkel, and the secretive Musk Turtle. Everyone was excited for the special guests, a Red-eared Slider and Box Turtle, who are pictured above with some Plover (and turtle!) Lovers. Tineasha emphasized that all of our turtles with the exception of Painted Turtles are species at risk. Our turtles are reliant upon coastal wetlands, rivers, and the Great Lakes that they are connected to. We can all help by protecting our wetlands and keeping our beaches clean! Learn how to help a turtle to cross the street below!
The seven presentations in our Beach Talk Speaker Series this summer have allowed us to piece together a broader image of coastal ecosystems, specifically in the Great Lakes. From Piping Plovers to Lake Sturgeon and dynamic fish populations in the Great Lakes to birds, beach botany, and turtles, we have seen a common theme of resilience in our Beach Talks. We have many coastal species and habitats facing primarily human-based threats, however, we still see these species working to carry on. Despite all odds this season, we have had 7 Piping Plover chicks fledge, turtles marching all over the region to lay their eggs, and Lake Sturgeon slowly making a comeback in the Great Lakes.
Perhaps one of the most common themes in the series was also the importance of learning and understanding. Arunas Liskauskas demonstrated that with some investigation, humans were able to assist in controlling the invasive Sea Lamprey population, introducing and reestablishing aquatic predator populations, and restoring an equilibrium in the Great Lakes. We have seen that humans can and often do hurt the environment, but we always have an opportunity to learn and change. Each presenter has sought to generate an interest and deeper understanding of coastal environments so that we will be inspired to change some of our actions or conversations to create a brighter future for the flora, fauna, and people that we have grown to love.
The Plover Lovers would like to thank Bruce Power for the opportunity to offer free public admission. We would also like to extend a huge thank you to our speakers and all of you who have attended; for your questions, your interest, and your passion to learn about the world around us. We hope to see you next year!