I’ll never forget the first time Lord of The Flyway Todd Pover corrected me about the adult PIPL with chicks I was watching at Barnegat Light State Park a few years back. After several posts about the itty-bitties and their “Mama”, Todd very gently corrected me:
And, you know, one more thing… I just want to mention that the adult bird your seeing is the father, not the mother. I just want to make sure all the good Dads out there get their props.
Boy, was he right. Beach Nesting Bird Dads are super-dads in the extreme and deserve every bit of credit they can get. It is not unusual for the Mom to take off for a winter in the Bahamas just a few weeks after the chicks are born, before they can even fly, leaving Dads like Tufters stuck raising them and seeing the season through all on their own.
Tufters sure has had a rough season losing three of his four chicks so far, and none of those losses were related to bad fathering in any way, shape, or form. Thankfully, little Beth remains to wish him a Happy Father’s Day this year.
So this Father’s Day, we will specifically celebrate another one of LBI’s finest Fathers, T2 the Oystercatcher. Only, T2 is not really a Father. He has not had a successful nest on LBI in nine years. But it’s not for lack of trying.
Someone needs to invent an exclosure for American Oystercatcher, STAT. Piping Plover like Tufters & Tacey are lucky to get artisan exclosures hand built by Todd Pover & crew. These exclosures are marvelously effective at helping see the eggs through safely to hatch.
Unfortunately, nothing like that exists for the poor Oystercatcher, so each of T2’s nests full of eggs gets mauled mercilessly in the chaos of Barnegat Light State Park, often within 24 hours. Remember T2’s Picture Perfect Photobomb? Yeah, well that nest was gone a few days later. In fact, T2 has already tried and lost four nests this season.
But T2 does not give up easily. He is currently on nest number five and we’re still all rooting for him. You have to admire someone so determined to be Dad. It’s as admirable in many ways as actually being a Dad.
So here’s to all the Dads out there, and also to all those who want to be Dads but just seem to have too many barriers in the way. And while we’re at it, here’s hoping for a breakthrough year for anyone with barriers in their way. Because that’s what great Dads do: remove as many barriers as possible so their young can eventually go completely, and totally, rogue.
Happy Fathers Day.