To catch a Herring Gull on the beach, you basically need only a spare beach towel and a box of CheezItz (TM). If you want to catch a Piping Plover, unfortunately, they don’t sell wermz at the WaWa and they don’t make beach towels that small. What you need is a contraption. But contraptions are complicated and scientists generally like to keep things simple. So they figured out how to build a perfect trap using an already existing nest exclosure, like the fancy one put up for Tufters just a few days back. That’s smart. That’s why scientists make the big bucks.
To pull off this trick, researchers tell the PIPL couple that they will be adding a “state-of-the-art, artisan front and back door add-on” to the exclosure, usually adding that “you will be they envy of all the other Beach Nesting birds in your territory.” In this case they told Tufters & Tacey that T2 would be wicked jealous. Tufters & Tacey were immediately sold on the idea and agreed to the upgrade.
The researchers then wrap the bottom of the exclosure in weaved wire, leaving two openings; a front door and a back door. And on the back door, they place a delicate, itty-bitty net.
While PIPL are usually eager for the upgrade, it takes them a bit to figure out how it works. While they can normally enter and exit the Exclosure from any direction, they now have only the front door to enter through, seeing as how the back door is plugged up with the net. They can exit through the back door, but they’ll exit right into the net.
Thankfully, the itty-bitty PIPL are usually blinded by the thrill of the new upgrade and don’t notice at first that they can’t enter through the back door. So they use the front door (when they finally find it). At that point, the scientists make a mad-dash to block the front door. This has two advantages: first, it forces the PIPL to flee from the scientists through the backdoor, straight into the net, and second, it allows the rest of us to watch scientists running, which is always a good time.
If that all sounds complicated, I assure you it is not. You probably should have just watched the above video instead of reading all this. That’s what it is there for, silly.
The view is from the backdoor. This video is lovingly rendered in full HD, so hover over the player, click the HD button in the top right hand corner of the player, then go full screen, and enjoy a special glimpse into the fine and delicate art of catching an adorable, elusive PIPL.
And for the sensitive viewer who has trouble watching these tiny creatures be intentionally disturbed, take comfort in this: this single disturbance is done by professional, well trained Plover-Lovers with enormous caution and care for the benefit of the entire species. These animals are well along the path to extinction for the simple reasons that we love the beach as much as they do, and we also have a lot of garbage. It may not appear so on the surface, but these are animals are being helped, not hindered.
If you want to read some more serious, personal thoughts about this, read some of the long-winded comment replies here and feel free to ask questions and present your own opinions as a comment to this post!