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Spotted…Again

Lauren Dinan Contributed by Nongame Bird Biologist Lauren Dinan

As we are set to endure the coldest temperatures in years, “our” famous home grown Piping Plover was once again photographed on a warm beach.  Something to ponder as you shiver.  More importantly, these photographic reports document a bird’s  travels.  As you may remember from a post a few months ago, we work in cooperation with the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln School of Natural Resources in leading a Piping Plover color-banding research project along the lower Platte River in eastern Nebraska. We have banded over 300 Piping Plovers over the last six year.  Many color-banded plovers go unreported, others may be reported a handful of times, but one particular lower Platte River plover has been reported over 40 times by many different observers in the last three and a half years!

Two Piping Plover chicks about to be banded.
Two Piping Plover chicks about to be banded.

To keep things simple I will call this plover Erwin.  Erwin was banded at a lakeshore housing development in Dodge County as a three-day old chick  on 16 June 2011.  He was observed several times throughout the summer but was gone by early August. The next time this plover was observed was in November 2011 on Bunche Beach near Fort Myers, Florida; 1,300 miles away from its home in Nebraska. Erwin was reported many times throughout the 2011-2012 winter. We did not observe Erwin along the lower Platte River during the summer of 2012.

Erwin the plover
Erwin with his metal band and yellow over gray, black over yellow color bands. Photo taken by Danny Sauvageau on 22 December 2013 at Bunche Beach near Fort Myers, Florida.

In early August 2012, Erwin was report back at in Florida at  Bunche Beach where he was reported many times from August 2012 to March 2013.  Erwin finally returned to Nebraska in May 2013 and nested at a sand and gravel mine in Cass County. After returning to Nebraska to nest, Erwin returned to his favorite overwintering spot at Bunche Beach, Florida.  Erwin was reported from Bunche Beach eight times from August to December 2013, most recently on 22 December.

2013_PIPL_Winter_Example2
The three locations Erwin has been reported at over the last several years and the distance he travels between the summer and winter.

If this patterns continues, we will have the opportunity to essentially chronicle Erwin’s entire life (with the exception of the summer of 2012).  Now we just have to wait until late spring and see if Erwin returns to nest in Nebraska again in 2014.

Nongame Bird Blog

About Joel Jorgensen

Joel Jorgensen is a Nebraska native and he has been interested in birds just about as long as he has been breathing. He has been NGPC’s Nongame Bird Program Manager for eight years and he works on a array of monitoring, research, regulatory and conservation issues. Nongame birds are the 400 or so species that are not hunted and include the Whooping Crane, Least Tern, Piping Plover, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon. When not working, he enjoys birding.

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