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  • Duxbury Beach Reservation

Growing up Plover: Post 6

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

Piping Plover activity has slowed down a ton since our last post. We’re down to only ONE family with chicks after another family of chicks fledged this morning. Of course, the Least Terns are still hanging out (>80 chicks counted this week!) and making a ruckus. There isn’t much to update on this week – most of the families of chicks we’ve been following have either departed the beach or moved to different areas, blending in with their fellows. Let’s check in with the family from nest 5b – the parents that lost their first chicks at the replicated habitats and renested on the oceanside beach.

(Formerly) of the Replicated Habitats

Earlier in the summer I wrote about the “Early Bird” family and the excitement that comes with the first nest and hatch of the season. One and done. That is what we’re looking for. Ideally, each pair arrives at the beach and lays only one clutch of eggs. We want that first nest to hatch and fledge – better for the chicks and better for beachgoers. But of course, we all know this plan is frequently disrupted – nests are washed away by storms, eaten by predators, etc.

After losing their first group of chicks, the parents of nest 5 renested and hatched a second nest. Unfortunately, as the season goes on, things can change. Food availability can change on the beach and adults can start losing their focus on nesting (thoughts turning south?). Is this what happened for the nest 5 family?

Nest 5 chicks hatched 4 days after nest 15 chicks. Plover chicks grow quickly so it’s not uncommon for chicks a few days apart to look different. But as the chicks from 5 and 15 got older, it became clear the difference in development looked much greater than just four days. They grew up on different parts of the beach so maybe it’s the food supply? Monitors also noticed that the nest 5 parents are not as attentive to their chicks as the nest 15 parents. Our youngest chicks have had to spend more time watching out for themselves and less time getting food. This is a big deal when you are trying to go from egg to flight in just a few short weeks!

Take a look at one of the chicks from the nest 15 family and compare to a chick from nest 5 on the same day! It's hard to believe they are only 4 days apart in age.

While we wait for the chicks from nest 5 to fledge, let's take a look back at some of their photos from the fluff stage (August 2).

Who Else is on Duxbury Beach?

Did you know that 127 different types of birds were seen on Duxbury Beach last year? There are many birds that use the beach and surrounding area to nest, feed, and rest. Sometimes they call Duxbury Beach home and other times it is just a stopping point on migration. Check out a couple highlights that volunteer wildlife photographer, Stewart Ting Chong, captured last week!

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Ready for lift off! Least Tern fledgling.

Horned Lark

Horned Grebe

Photos courtesy of Stewart Ting Chong

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