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Plover trouble in Texas

Lauren DinanContributed by Lauren Dinan, Nongame Bird Biologist

A couple weeks ago we were made aware that one of our Nebraska Piping Plovers was found entangled in some fishing line on the Texas coast near Texas City. This plover was found by Mark Bartosik and was struggling to escape from fishing line anchored to the ground.  Mark carefully freed the plover from the fishing line but noticed that it was injured and unable to fly.  This plover was taken to a local wildlife rehabber, Charli Rohack, who took care of it until it was taken to the Wildlife Center of Texas in Houston.

Photo of the Piping Plover entangled in the fishing line. Photo provided by Mark Bartosik.
Photo of the Piping Plover entangled in fishing line just before it was carefully freed from the line.  Photo provided by Mark Bartosik.

This plover was originally banded by the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and the Nongame Bird Program at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. It was banded as an adult on May 13th, 2014 at a sand and gravel mine near Fremont, Dodge County. This plover returned to Nebraska during the 2015 summer and successfully nested at the same site in Dodge County. It was last observed in Nebraska on June 9th, 2015 and was first reported in Texas on August 21st when it was found entangled in fishing line.

Injured Piping Plover at the local wildlife rehabber’s before it was transported to the Wildlfie Center of Texas. Photo provided by Susan Hightower.
Injured Piping Plover at the local wildlife rehabber’s facility before it was transported to the Wildlfie Center of Texas. Photo provided by Susan Hightower.

Unfortunately, wildlife encounters with improperly discarded fishing line, plastic bags, and other trash items are not uncommon, and often result in life threatening injuries and death. Fortunately, this Piping Plover was found, untangled, and taken to a rehab facility before it succumbed to its injuries. However, this plover fractured the tip of its right wing and was very weak from the lack of water and food. According to Sharon Schmalz, with the Wildlife Center of Texas, the plover has been eating and is recovering. However, the wing injury could prevent it from fully recovering and being released back to the wild. At the Wildlife Center of Texas they are still hopeful for a full recovery but if that is not possible, they will be looking to find this plover a nice home at a zoo.

Our lower Platte River Piping Plover looking pretty healthy only a few days after arriving at the Wildlife Center of Texas. Photo provided by the Wildlife Center of Texas.
Our lower Platte River Piping Plover looking pretty healthy only a few days after arriving at the Wildlife Center of Texas. Photo provided by the Wildlife Center of Texas.

Thanks to Mark Bartosik, Susan Hightower, Susan Heath, Rebecca Bracken, Charli Rohack, Sharon Schmalz and the Wildlife Center of Texas for all of their quick response and all of their work to getting this plover on the road to recovery. 

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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