Plovers set up house­keep­ing

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - NEWS - DE­NIS LAN­GLOIS

One of the en­dan­gered pip­ing plovers at Sauble Beach has started lay­ing eggs.

“I found the first egg Satur­day morn­ing and we put up the ex­clo­sure shortly after that. There’s no way to know how many eggs are in there now, be­cause we don’t go in to check, but gen­er­ally they lay an egg ev­ery other day,” Hay­ley Roberts, the out­reach and ed­u­ca­tion co-or­di­na­tor for the lo­cal Plover Lovers group, said in an in­ter­view Mon­day.

She said the egg was laid by the plover nick­named Ms. Green Dots, who is back at Sauble for a third sea­son in a row. She chose the same mate this year – the bird nick­named Mr. Blue Bands – as she did last spring.

Ms. Green Dots lost two clutches of eggs and all her male part­ners in 2016, but suc­cess­fully fledged four chicks last year.

The pair’s nest is on the far north end of Sauble Beach by the ten­nis courts. Fe­male pip­ing plovers lay three to four eggs and in­cu­ba­tion only be­gins after the last one is laid so they can all hatch at the same time. Both the fe­male and male plovers then take turns sit­ting on the eggs. Chicks hatch about 26 to 30 days after in­cu­ba­tion be­gins.

Roberts said Plover Lover vol­un­teers have ob­served six pip­ing plovers at Sauble Beach. An­other pair looks like they will soon cre­ate a nest, she said. The vol­un­teers be­lieve the other two plovers are also a male and a fe­male.

Pip­ing plovers, which are pro­tected by both the fed­eral Species at Risk Act and pro­vin­cial En­dan­gered Species Act, re­turned to Sauble Beach in 2007 after a 30-year ab­sence.

They have been at the beach each year since. The first plover of this sea­son was spot­ted April 30.

Last year was one of the most suc­cess­ful for the pip­ing plover re­cov­ery pro­gram at Sauble Beach, as seven chicks fledged and headed south for the win­ter. Five oth­ers were killed by ring-billed gulls.

The time be­tween when the chicks hatch and suc­cess­fully fledge is when the birds are most vul­ner­a­ble to be­ing killed by a preda­tor, such as gulls, dogs and foxes.

The Plover Lovers group is look­ing for more vol­un­teers to help mon­i­tor the pip­ing plovers while they’re nest­ing at Sauble and un­til the chicks fledge. The vol­un­teers also talk with beach­go­ers about the birds, an­swer ques­tions and help to ed­u­cate the pub­lic about how to help pro­tect the plovers.

A vol­un­teer train­ing ses­sion is set for May 22 at Huron Feath­ers Pres­by­te­rian Cen­tre.

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