While the fact that we all die in the end is so enduring it sounds almost foolish to call it a spoiler, in this case, we are speaking very specifically about the following video.
It is with a heavy heart I report to you, dear Reader, that all of Tufters’ & Tacey’s 2017 Brood perished last night on their very first precious night on the beach. This is essentially the exact opposite of last year’s epic success, the Brood That Didn’t Die.
While no one will ever know for certain which of the many threats facing an itty bitty ultimately did them in, I can tell you for sure it was a family of crows. Really, really smart crows. After watching the hatch it became clear that a group of crows had heard the little babies peeping and were not going to miss this adorable snack. I left the scene in the video below pretty sure I would never see these babies thrive on LBI. While they hatched safely in their little protective exclosure built lovingly just for them by the undyingly kind and hard working people from the State of New Jersey, the Crows knew what was up and were waiting. It was only a matter of time before each itty-bitty went rogue and left the fence. There was little hope.
I’ve heard before that crows are wickedly smart; that they can recognize faces, and study behaviors, and use tools. This is the first time I ever witnessed it. It was terrifying, and beautiful, and real. I’ve seen plenty of crows at Barnegat Light uncomfortably close to PIPL chicks. This was different. These crows were keyed in. They got lucky. They figured it out. I debated continuously with myself about whether I should stay and try to deter the crows or not. Perhaps I’ll write a followup in 30 years to tell you if I believe I did the right thing. Right now I don’t care. I’m just sad.
Saddest of all was returning to the chaos the next morning. All the babies were gone, and Tufters & Tacey were trying to make sense of it all. I’ll never need to debate if animals have feelings or not again. Their lives matter. To them, and then therefore to us, unless we don’t mind being jerks.
Crows ate our babies. That’s all I can tell you.
But not before Tufters’ & Tacey had a chance to love them, and to name the name. These are the Teasters. The adorable offspring of the Taceters Family of Barnegat Light. Tufters & Tacey, the World’s Most Famous Piping Plover In The World. Share this brief moment of joy with them as Earl Grey, Jasmine, Hibiscus, and ‘lil Oolong each hatch out and discover they were born in to live at the best place in the entire world: the beach.
Don’t be afraid to go HD and full screen for maximum joy & sadness. The Teasters really were precious. Their little lives were as tiny in duration as they were in size. But for a moment they lit up the whole Island with magic. Sad as it was, I’d do it again. They are just that special.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP: The ‘lil Teasters perished because of a natural predator, but we share in the blame a little. Our beaches, and Barnegat Light State in particular, are pig styes. When the Bluefish are running in the spring, the park gets so nasty with trash and dead fish tossed aside I can barely stomach the visit. It’s gross for us and feeds and encourages the invasive predators who eat our local, native animals.
Be very careful when you eat at the beach, and encourage anglers to throw their dead fish in the sea and not on the beach and on the jettys. Everybody hates it. It is gross and it kills babies. Share the beach.