Before The Bird Comes The Turd, And Before The Turd, The Greaseball.

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I enjoy seeing my Piping Plover Growth Chart used in presentations. I especially enjoy turning to the person sitting next to me and asking “why does it say ‘turd’?”

In “Growth of a Plover: From Little Turd To Big Bird” the first stage of a PIPL’s life is identified as the “turd” stage. PIPL are precocial and need to go rogue and feed themselves from the moment they are born. But since it takes them several hours to figure out how stuff like “legs” works, they usually spend the first few hours of life at the beach like we do: just lying there in the sand like little turds.

Yet there is an even subtler, pre-turd stage which has been identified by scientists. It’s called “The Greaseball.” When a Piping Plover first comes out of the egg, it is still wet from all the yucky egg stuff it was swimming around in. This stage is especially precious as it only lasts about an hour. Snuggling under its parent, the sun, and even the wind turn the little Greaseballs into little Fuzzballs in no time at all. If you happen to find a Greaseball on the beach, you can be more-or-less sure it hatched within the last few hours.

Enjoy this very special photo of Mustache BYLL & Myrtle’s nest, mid-hatch. The little fuzzy turd on the right is Cinnamon Bun, the first to hatch, at about 4 hours old. The Greaseball on the left is Flapjack at just an hour old, complete with a little piece of Stink Egg still stuck to him.

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Mustache BYLL & Myrtle’s nest mid-hatch. Two eggs with a side of Turd & Greaseball.

Bonus Special:

Take a close look at the tip of egg on the left. It appears to be damaged. Hatching usually begins out of the wider end of the egg with an even cracking pattern. Mustache BYLL & Myrtle’s nest was buried three times, once completely flooded. This might explain how the tip of the egg could have gotten crushed.

And also a special apology to Mustache Bill’s Diner from Reading From The Northside¬†for writing a post using the terms “Mustache Byll”, “turd”, and “grease ball” repeatedly and gratuitously.