The Million Dollar Babies

Windom Earle. First to forage at The Finger. The crowning jewel of a spectacular achievement.

While it’s just a humble little thing, the following clip is the highest budget film ever produced by Readings From The Northside. We’re talking seven figures here. Which is kind of a big deal considering I can’t remember a single RFTNS video that cost even one figure.

It surely wasn’t the talent that caused the budget to bloat. Even though it features the skyrocketing plover starlets Stacy & Tatiana, they appeared in this short film before the film of their unbelievable devotion to their family went viral and made them internet sensations. In fact, I don’t think they even know they are in this film.

And it surely wasn’t the script, because not much happens here other than a piping plover family living the dream, down the shore.

It was the set. While it might look like just some mediocre footage of an ordinary scene of a piping plover family enjoying your average beach environment, it’s not. It is much, much more than that. The entire set was constructed for this film, and took years to build. Every tiny detail, carefully planned and crafted to make it as real and as lifelike as possible. In fact, the set for this film is so authentic, it is now a living, breathing environment that will become a permanent fixture in the world.

The set built for this film is so real, I’m not sure the piping plovers even realize it isn’t. Or wasn’t. It’s a Truman Show of sorts. A Matrix.

This is the moment when Stacy, Tatiana, and their four chicks discover The Finger; an accidental, irregular, ephemeral environment that literally just bubbled up during the construction of Plover Park. They have just found a home near a happy accident that occurred in a massive project that was anything but. Plover Park was built for this moment.

I will treasure these clips forever because this evening was one of the most thrilling, beautiful, meaningful, hopeful, magical, special… moments I have ever had observing wildlife, and contemplating the hard work of the people who care for it, down the shore.

All the hard work, all of the difficult things witnessed, all the tragedies, all the frustrations, all the tears, all the study, all the data, all the time spent toiling for ideas and searching for solutions for beach nesting birds… it all comes down to this. Just this! Four tiny, native, piping plover chicks living their lives freely and undisturbed; doing nothing more that running through the mud eating all manner of gross things, then snuggling under mom and dad to get warm, then doing it all over again. Over and over and over again. Just as they were made to do, and just as they have always done. Undisturbed. Only partly wild, but foraging free!

Many of us along the Jersey Shore can easily grok what we’ve been gifted with here, as it is not so different than our own beach replenishments. Having overdeveloped the coast and destroyed all of nature’s flood proofing features, we found ourselves vulnerable, and suddenly questioned our own ability to survive here. Considering that it might be too late to go backward, and certainly lacking the time that would take, we did the best we could and paid the Army Corps to build us a simulated version of what we once loved, what was once free, and what we always needed.

As goofy and sad as our Army Corps constructed fake dunes and beaches look and feel compared to what we destroyed, when we walk over the dune and see our friends and family playing in the summer sun like they always had… we don’t care about all that. Because they allow us to get back to normal, and to move forward. We know we can continue to enjoy a life on the beach.

We feel hope. Life goes on. We can fix things. We are smart. We are talented. We are not afraid to work hard. We can put back what we lost.

Todd Pover & Brooke Maslo built our native animals a home by rebuilding for them what we mistakenly destroyed; and, apparently, they love it.

These million dollar babies are actually priceless. I hope you enjoy this tiny peek into the secret lives hidden deep in the sprawling wonder of Plover Park. Plover Park is a masterpiece of human excellence. I am deeply grateful.

As the first pair to settle The Finger on the shores of Lake Anchovy, The Twin Peeps brood are now legend. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer family.

And for a closer look at why non-stop foraging is so critical to the chicks’ survival, and why Plover Park’s lovingly constructed places to eat like The Finger are probably even more important than the nesting habitat it provides, see the previous reading The Success Of Plover Park Will be Measured In Grams.

5 thoughts on “The Million Dollar Babies

Add yours

  1. Wonderful!! They are just so adorable and Mama Tatiana is so patient as they wriggle under her! Are they most active early in the morning? It just seems so peaceful, as they scurry along eating bugs and worms! I suppose they have to spend plenty of time foraging in order to take in enough calories to survive and grow, and all the scurrying burns a lot of calories too! Is this all happening now? Or was this a couple weeks ago? What did they do, where did they go when that tropical storm blew in yesterday? Thanks for sharing such a feel good video!

    1. I’m a little behind live schedule as I have so many species to cover and they all do stuff on the same day! Fay was no match for the big babies of Plover Park. The beach nesters did surprisingly well overall.

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