Piping Plovers

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve protects some pretty important bird habitat.

On October 23, Anne Mauro, Avian Ecologist with Rookery Bay Research Reserve, spotted a Piping plover on Keewaydin Island, one of the barrier island beaches protected within the reserve boundary. Through her spotting scope she was able to see some colored bands on the bird’s legs, so she reported her sighting toplover@umn.edu.

The colored bands showed that the bird had originated from the Great Lakes area, where the Piping plover is an Endangered species. After getting more details about what to look for, Anne returned to the area again on November 17. Amazingly, the plover was still in the around and she was able to get a good enough look to read two of the digits on the bird’s leg band, confirming that the bird was born in 2017 in Pennsylvania.

Piping plovers haven’t nested in Pennsylvaniain 60 years. In 2017, four chicks were banded there, and two of those chicks (including the one Anne saw) have been resighted in Florida this year. It is very exciting to learn that two of the four chicks survived the long migration south to the Florida coast and at least one of them is able to spend the winter on this relatively secluded beach. With luck, both will make it north in spring and settle along Lake Erie, continuing the re-population of historic Great Lakes Piping Plover nesting territories.

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