Do the Piping Plover, and yourself, a favor and just stay the heck away from Barnegat Light. The North End’s only successful mating pair of this off-the-charts endangered bird is running around Barnegat Light foraging with their adorable itty-bitties right now. During the bad weather we had, mom & pop Plover decided it would be a “good idea” to march their chicks over a mile through the sand dune to “visit the Lighthouse”.
Avoiding the nesting areas as if they were covered in bird flu will obviously do them a solid, but you’re also helping yourself: you can avoid the temptation to pocket one of these adorable little creatures, and also, these chicks are so sickeningly sweet & adorbz they are known to induce nausea and vomiting in humanz.
While the State and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ have done a bang up job fencing off as much area as they can, they don’t have the technology to build fences small enough to keep these chicks under control.
It is a nightmare situation for these precious little ones. Only one, that’s right, one, nest survived on the Northside this year which kind of puts the whole “endangered” thing in perspective. The photos that you are about to see are LBI’s three chicks, that’s right, only three, for the 2013 season.
Being the itty-bittiest, the Piping Plover have it rough. Forgetting the humanz, predators are everywhere. Just spending a few hours observing these little fellas is a dramatic and exhausting experience.
There are more predators hovering around this family than you’d find in 162 episodes of CSI, and that include both the Miami and the “plain” versions of CSI. I saw Mama attack and chase off gulls whose feet were bigger than she was. I even saw her pull the famed “Broken Wing Defense” maneuver, basically pretending to have a busted wing and limping around to lure predators towards her and away from the chicks.
Luckily the chicks are quite good at playing Hide But Don’t Be Sought. Their tiny size, plus sandy camouflage coloring makes them about as hard to spot from the air as ghost crabs, fiddler crabs, or your wedding ring.
So obviously minimizing the human impact is a big deal. For a human to come trampling through one of these scenes is like adding a Godzilla to the movie Fatal Attraction. So remember humanz: we are Godzillaz. Whenever in the area of beach nesting birds, do everything you can to not be a Godzilla and respect the tiny struggles going on there.
Please support the Conserver Wildlife Foundation of NJ if you can, either through donations or volunteer work. The Piping Plover are in a tight spot as more and more effort is required to help fewer and fewer itty-bitties. They saved the Osprey, they can save the Plover, but we all have to help. Hopefully these photos give a sense of why it is worth the effort!
Update! Video has been added. Check the homepage.