Fresh! Piping. Hot. Plover.

And Unto New Jersey, Four Plover Were Born
And Unto New Jersey, Four Plover Were Born
It is with great, itty-bitty pleasure that I announce to you that unto us these Piping Plover have just been born.
It is with great, itty-bitty pleasure that I announce to you that unto us these Piping Plover have just been born.
Born of the House Rafiki. Rafiki is one of New Jersey's rare banded Piping Plover. Atlantic Coast Piping Plover (as opposed to other groups, like Detroit Plover) are one of the very few birds susceptible to leg injury when banding. Piping Plover are only banded when the study involved is important enough to justify the potential risk.
Born of the House Rafiki. Rafiki is one of New Jersey’s rare banded Piping Plover. See his itty-bitty bling? Atlantic Coast Piping Plover (as opposed to other groups, like Detroit Plover) are one of the very few birds susceptible to leg injury when banding. Piping Plover are only banded when the study involved is important enough to justify the potential risk.
While scientists have no official conclusion as to why they are more prone to injury, I have actually discovered the reason through careful observation.
While scientists have no official conclusion as to why they are more prone to injury, I have actually discovered the reason through careful observation.
It's because their legs are so ippsy-dibble and adorbz!
It’s because their legs are so ippsy-dibble and adorbz!
We wish you luck little ones. Every Plover Chick counts in the race to save this endangered species.
We wish you luck little ones. Every Plover Chick counts in the race to save this endangered species.

Rafiki is a cool dad-bird, and a New Jersey legend. He was not named by Readings From The Northside but rather by Todd Pover, the Beach Nesting Bird Director for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ; the man responsible for saving our beach birds from our own careless destruction. While he’ll deny it up & down, I have it on good authority that Mr. Todd Pover, when not running to Home Depot to furiously erect fences to protect these itty-bitties, mulls over his spreadsheet of birds, surrounded by dictionaries, thesauri, and even the Egyptian Book of The Dead, researching names and filling in the “Name” column.

Speaking of fences, poor Rafiki & family live next to a dog park. Despite the dogs having a huge off-lead park for themselves, surrounded by fences and signs that clearly set the boundaries and explain not to enter the endangered species nesting area (Rafiki’s home), I sadly observed, multiple times, people plowing right over the fences to throw the stick and have their amped-up canines run right through Rafiki’s nest, throwing this family into mortal danger and severe panic.

It is one of the cruelest things I have ever witnessed done to animals… and by dog owners no less, who we should reasonably assume have some level of respect for animal welfare.  But there is no excuse. It is pure animal cruelty. There is no way to sugar coated that. It is cruelty rooted in a horrible form of selfishness that says the dog park is not enough for me… I need more! More! And I’m willing to kill anything to get what I want!

The good news is, most of this abject cruelty and selfishness is a result of ignorance. They don’t see the itty-bitties, so they don’t believe the signs. If we can see, maybe we can understand. I hope these pictures help folks see what we’re destroying.

Share the beach. We share the beach with our dogs though the dog parks, through lax laws & enforcement on our public beaches, and through non-nesting season permission-to-play in most areas. Let’s share the beach with the wild animals that lived here long before us, and depend on our beach for survival.

(Editor’s Note: Dangit! I promised myself, NO MORE DOWNER POSTS! But truthfully, I’m full of hope. Full of hope. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a dog owner and happily walk my dog illegally on the beach all the time. Just not anywhere near fenced off areas where endangered species nest. I’m a jerk, I’m a rebel… but not a complete monster.)