Saturday, May 4, 2013

Piping Plover - Charadrius melodus

Piping Plover - Charadrius melodus
It is spring and the Piping Plovers have returned to Allens Pond Audubon Sanctuary.  For the fourth year in a row, a pair of Piping Plovers are nesting near the beginning of the entrance to the Beach Loop.  Why am I interested in this pair of piping plovers?  Because, in 2010, I had predicted that the pair would nest in this location.  And for the last three years, they have produced four chicks.  The staff at the Sanctuary notified me that the pair was on nest and brooding.  Again, have to see them, and document their presence.

When Anna (one of the staff shorebird monitors), and I arrived down by the fenced in area, both adult plovers were out foraging.  Staying outside the fence line and walking down the beach to visualize the nest, the female Piping Plover came up from where she was foraging, and put on a wounded wing display to keep us away from the nest.  In actuality the nests is extremely well hidden and cannot be easily viewed.  After photographing this lovely bird, we left and she went back to brood on the eggs.  We did spend very little time photographing so that we would not keep the female from the the nest.
Piping Plover - Charadrius melodus
Piping Plover - Charadrius melodus

"Looking at you"

Broken wing display

Piping Plover - Charadrius melodus

Piping plovers, usually nest on Sandy coastal beaches and dunes that are relatively flat and free vegetation.  The nest is a shallow depression, which can be lined with fragments of shells and small pebbles which aid in camouflaging the eggs.  They will lay four eggs in the clutch, laying an egg every other day over a week.  They will not sit on the nest until all four eggs are laid.  The eggs on Sandy gray in color with dark brown a black spots and do resemble many of the rocks that are on the coast.
Piping Plover - Charadrius melodus On Nest
Different nest with only two eggs, so brooding as not started


The eggs will hatch in approximately 26-28 days later.  And I shall return to obtain photographs of this year's chicks.

The Piping Plovers are threatened species, both federally and in the state of Massachusetts.