I’m pretty sure you can prove mathematically that LBI is the greatest place on Earth (don’t worry about the numbers). On our Island lives Tufters, the most handsome Piping Plover on the planet (evidence not required). And Tufters sure is lucky that the guy who assures his safety and comfort living among us rowdies, secretly favors our very own Barnegat Light State Park as the finest beach nesting spot in NJ (with the best people too, don’t tell anyone.)
But Tufters has far more to be thankful for than just having a good landlord. He is truly fortunate because our own Beach Nesting Bird Director Todd Pover has become an important global force in solving the Piping Plover Problem. This was solidified a few seasons back when Todd became the well-deserved recipient of some generous funds to study Piping Plover in the Bahamas from the Disney Corporation (who, as I hear it, got pitched by their insane team at Pixar with the crazy idea to turn some of those Frozen profits into itty-bitty-baby PIPLs)
I was surprised when I first learned we only discovered that Piping Plovers spend the winter in the Bahamas a few years back. Imagine if we still didn’t know where all the old people disappeared to each Winter (Florida.) It’s easy to relax on the couch believing we already know everything, except the hard stuff like curing Cancer or figuring out why we exist. But nope. There are all kinds of rudimentary facts and low hanging fruit to be discovered out there.
Having Todd Pover watching over our wildlife in the Summer, then heading down to the Bahamas to spend the winter learning about their lives down there does more than just make Todd a really lucky guy. It makes us very fortunate, as our own home-state expert brings home with him a big picture perspective about where our little Island fits into this great big world.
And this month, Todd Pover had the chance to extend his Piping Plover Flyway perspective in the opposite direction, when he was invited to Canada to speak with other experts and locals after he reported a lucky sighting of banded PIPL “E4” in the Bahamas. As it turns out, E4 is a celebrity Canadian PIPL who lives at the luxurious White Point Beach Resort in Nova Scotia, with a local community who is absolutely nuts about him, very much as we are about our own Tufters & Tacey.
Todd tells the whole story in a new blog post on the CWFNJ website, Traveling The Flyway In Search of Piping Plovers. It’s a great story and worth the quick read. There are some really big messages here too that are fun to consider.
The White Point Resort could have easily tried to extinguish E4 as a nuisance to their business. But instead, they embraced him and have actually managed to turn their PIPL into a draw that attracts business. This is right up Todd Pover’s alley as he surely leads the way in forging a new era of helping endangered species that invites people to get involved and take an interest. The era of conservation emphasizing “NO NO NO NO” (no walking, no vehicles. no anything) is ending and a new era of “YES YES YES!” (yes these animals are interesting, yes you should enjoy them, yes you should take an interest) is dawning. White Point Resorts successful marriage of commerce and PIPL is great example of this. The era of “I ❤ Tufters” t-shirts is clearly upon us. I’d buy one.
Another striking point is how connected people, both the public and the scientists, become to “their” animals. While we tend to think of scientists banding birds as cold-hearted researchers dealing with large populations, I have found the opposite to be true. Almost every banded bird I have ever reported has wound up putting me in contact with the original bander, who always loves to hear how the animal is doing and share the whole story of its life. This just happened with our Bridgelets. Where do you think I got all those details? From the original bander of course!
I can only imagine how nuts we’ll go when Tufters & Tacey are first spotted on their wintering grounds by some lucky researcher.
You are officially encouraged to click here to read the quick story of Todd’s adventures with E4 and learn why Todd Pover will henceforth be know here as “Lord Of The Flyway!”