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Plover chicks survive harrowing adventures to fledge on new beaches

Cara J

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From New Jersey to Manitoba, young piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) are learning to fly on beaches that haven’t seen plover nests in years. The birds’ expansion to new beaches is good news for the federally listed species, and it reflects hard work by wildlife professionals to keep the chicks from being crushed or eaten. Piping plovers were added to the U.S. endangered species list in 1986, largely due to human impacts on the sandy beaches where they nest. Hatchling piping plovers spend about a month foraging on the shoreline, with no defense except to freeze or scamper away on oversized legs. They are especially vulnerable in today’s landscape, with humans crowding beaches and attracting predators such as gulls and raccoons. Plovers usually lay four eggs at a time, and biologists struggle to help them survive. “If we fledge one chick, we’re happy,” said Christina Davis, an environmental specialist with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. “If you fledge three and four chicks, that’s, like, bazonkers.” This piping plover survived an injury and a brush with a fox before it could fly. Now, the fully fledged bird appears to have grown into its legs. ©KJ Knutsen At least one [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/plover-chicks-survive-harrowing-adventures-to-fledge-on-new-beaches/

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