It can be pretty amusing to watch a pair of Piping Plover trying to build a home on the world’s worst place to build a home: the Beach. The couples have distinct gender roles, which basically consist of the boys desperately doing everything they can to impress the girls, and the girls continually inspecting and rejecting said desperate efforts. Over time you would swear you can see the dark cloud of the male’s mounting frustration, as his annoyance turns his mood from charming and aiming-to-please to “let’s just get this thing done.” You can often see a similar dynamic in humans when couples are shopping for, let’s say, a sofa.
A rejected male does a very distinct, sad, and hilarious little walk after a rejection. I believe scientists should, if they have not already, name it the “Slinky Dink”. It is a stiff-legged, drop-shouldered, low-profile, gaze-averting “slink”, much like what you might see when a fresh-faced, standup comedian gets mercilessly booed off stage for the first time.
Well, our poor little Tufters has been slinking around Barnegat Light State Park a lot this season; more than we’d assume such an experienced Dad would have expected. It seems that this season his mate Tacey has developed a certain confidence and a taste for the good life. First of all, Tacey has obviously decided that they should “Go Big or Go Back To The Bahamas” this year. She apparently has outgrown Tufter’s modest, yet stylish, single-story scrapes and has been seen repeatedly hopping in some of T2 The Oystercatcher’s massive, leftover, rejected scrapes, to try them on for size.
Meanwhile, Tufters has his itty-bitty heart on one specific scrape, an exact replica of last year’s happy home, and continues to work on it despite Tacey’s mounting disapproval. Things are escalating to a new level as Tacey has now taken to walking off and digging her own little scrapes, which is somewhat embarrassing for little Tufters, as it does indeed suggest he might not be PIPL enough to handle Tacey’s growing needs and desires.
This quickly blew up into a veritable scraping match between the couple, with both Tufters and Tacey digging and peeping furiously, their adorable little black eyebrows growing increasingly cross with each digging flick of their itty bitty, orange legs. The tension on the Beach was palpable.
So how did it end? Well, Tufters, being the little Gentleman, experienced husband, and excellent father that he is, conceded to his love. He slinked over to Tacey and did something remarkable. He swallowed his pride and presented Tacey her scrape.
We cheer Tacey for being a Modern Gal, breaking the traditional, gender stereotypes of the Piping Plover, and forging a new path for adorable female PIPL everywhere. And Tufters, we salute you for your sacrifice. You put your needs aside for your true love, and for a species that depends on the success of your relationship with Tacey…. and you showed us that romance is still alive,.. at least on the Beach anyway.