Piping Plovers are small, endangered shorebirds in Manitoba. Its call is described as a "plaintive peep-lo" which made it the perfect name for this blog as it too is a plaintive call, a Call to Action.

01 June 2012

The Season to Date

It is with a heavy heart that I must inform everyone that for the first time that I can remember, we have not found a nest on the East side of Lake Winnipeg and in particular Grand Beach. We have observed single birds on four different occasions at four different locations; Grand Marais, Beaconia Beach, Hillside Beach and parking lot #5 at Grand Beach. Are they four different birds or is it the same bird searching different areas for a mate? We'll never no for sure as none of the birds observed to date has been banded.

However, with the discouraging news comes some positive news. A nest was found and confirmed on Tuesday located in Southwestern Manitoba; the first such observation in many years. It is located on a small island shared with about 40 American avocets in a flooded farmer's field. Go figure. I was able to place an exclosure over the nest today to help protect the eggs from marauding raccoons, foxes and crows.

When placing the exclosure, we always want to take as little time as possible, so as not to disturb the birds for an extended period of time. However, I was taken aback for a short time when I discovered six eggs in the nest and the top third of a shell from a seventh egg. Four eggs is a normal clutch size. Don't ask me, "What's with that?" because I don't know. You will note in the photograph below that the top two eggs are slightly discoloured and darker that the other four. I will endeavour to find out what the possibilities are from a colleague in Saskatchewan and will report back. Although the nest looked a little in disarray, when I left this afternoon, both adult birds were trading off to incubate the eggs.

So there you have it; nothing at Grand Beach, but a nest in an area that's not seen plover activity in sometime. We will continue to monitor the situation on the East side of Lake Winnipeg and will be paying particular attention to the nest with six eggs. Stay tuned.


Piping Plover nest with 6 eggs - Photo by Ken Porteous