This bird is nearly invisible—unless your are watching closely—it’s easy to see why the piping plover is so vulnerable. Each parent takes a turn sitting on the eggs while the other forages in the margin between the nest and the water. Signs are posted to protect these endangered birds, but because their ancestral home has been colonized by so many tourists (myself included), they are scarce where they once were common. The nest is just a scrape in the sand, and in this case, a wire cage was installed to help protect them from so many predators—dogs, rats, cats, weasels, skunks, raccoons, crows, ravens, and gulls. Like their inland cousin, the killdeer, they will draw away a threatening visitor by feigning a broken wing, limping ahead to draw attention away from the nest.
Along the Atlantic coast they are listed as federally threatened and listed as near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. But this pair—the only one I found on this beach—seemed to be doing well. I visited them three times during our 6-day stay, and thanks to my zoom lens, I was able to keep good distance. There were surely eggs in the nest, as I saw both parents incubating them. It is my hope that by now the eggs have hatched and there are three or four tiny plovers learning about their summer home. Maybe they’ll be lucky and survive to spend this winter in the Bahamas.
Foggy Morning Plover is a 10 x 10" acrylic painted on a wood panel.