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  • Duxbury Beach Reservation

Growing up Plover: Post 3

They’re back! Today we’re going to catch up with a couple of our Duxbury Beach plover families, including one new pair. If you missed our last couple of posts, we recommend taking a look back – these families have had an adventurous season so far!

The Early Birds

Our oldest chicks on the beach don’t look much like cotton balls on toothpicks anymore! This brood of chicks is getting ready to fledge – meaning they will be capable of flight. Once this happens, the protection and monitoring efforts decrease and restrictions in that area lift.

Typically, plover chicks take anywhere from 3.5-5 weeks to be able to fly, though sometimes it can be more. At 3.5 weeks the monitors on the beach start keeping a close eye out for flying practice. Usually there are many awkward attempts before we see success. We’re all rooting for these chicks to have a smooth take off!

Time to stretch out before a little flying practice...

...Now the leg and wing

Practice makes perfect!

Plover chicks have to keep eating to grow and develop so they are ready for lift off!

Replicated Habitats

Good news and bad news! After losing their young chicks, this tenacious plover pair moved over to the oceanside beach to lay a new nest. This will be one of our later hatches of the season so hopefully they make it through the heat. Due to the new location we won’t have pictures of this nest, but we’ll continue to post updates about the pair.

Pinky & Family

Quick update – this nest is ready to hatch, and we expect chicks any day now. We usually have a good idea of when hatching will occur based on how long the parents have been “incubating” or sitting on the nest. This is why it is so important for the Town and Mass Audubon staff who are responsible for “nest searching” to keep their eyes peeled and pay close attention to the plover parents’ behavior. Finding a nest before it reaches full clutch (typically 4 eggs) means that we can get a good estimate of the hatch date and know when the special fencing and monitoring needs to start up.

Certain Town and Mass Audubon staff, like this Monitor Supervisor, are trained to search for plover and tern nests on Duxbury Beach.

New Brood

To make sure we all get our fill of cuteness for the week, we’re adding in brood 18 – a couple of the adorable fluff balls hanging out between Crossover 1 and 2. This pair of plovers has had smooth sailing so far this season. Their first nest hatched all 4 chicks and so far 3 of the 4 chicks are doing well. Thanks to the nice wrack line (seaweed = plover chick buffet) on the oceanside beach they’ve had lots of great forage close by and have yet to venture bayside.

The adults help keep the chicks warm or cool depending on the weather. How many chicks do you see in this photo?

From a distance (or even up close) these chicks can be VERY hard to see. They blend in perfectly with the sand and cobble.

Although the chicks do spend a lot of their time searching for food, they do stop and rest once in a while!

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