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.

29 July 2009

Dedicated Guardians Care for Piping Plovers

Dedicated guardians care for piping plovers
by Arielle Godbout

photo by Trevor Hagan

GRAND BEACH -- Each summer, Matt Tebbutt drives nine hours from his home in Minnesota to Manitoba, where he spends all of June and July at his cabin in Grand Marais. Tebbutt, whose father was originally from Winnipeg, said he'd limit his visit to a couple weeks if it weren't for the piping plovers -- small, white birds that could fit in the palm of his hand. Tebbutt is one of about 60 volunteer guardians who watch over the endangered birds as they nest in the white sand of Grand Beach and this year -- for the first time ever -- at Gimli Beach.

"How often do you get to see an endangered species in its natural habitat?" Tebbutt asked fondly, looking over to where one of this year's chicks scurried across the beach.

Click here to read the rest of the story in the Winnipeg Free Press

16 July 2009

Plovers Hatching!


The Gimli nest hatched over a 10 hour period beginning just prior to 0800h through 1900h on Friday, June 26. All four eggs hatched. An intensive monitoring schedule commenced on June 26 and will continue through to fledging for all chicks at both Gimli (July 17) and Grand Beach (July 26).

Over the weekend of June 27/28, a severe storm shook both sides of Lake Winnipeg (Gimli and Grand Beach). The four chicks survived through the first two days (Saturday and Sunday day) however one was found missing on the morning on Monday (June 29). We presume that this chick was washed away over night as a result of intense wind/wave action (foraging close to the waters edge). The other three chicks have been thriving at this site and have fledged today at day 21.

Grand Beach

The nest at the channel site was first to hatch through June 30-July 1. One chick made its appearance around noon hour on Tuesday, June 30. The other three followed along on Wednesday, July 1 through the morning hours with the fourth being born around 12:30h. All four channel chicks have survived with seemingly no major obstacles thus far – As of today (July 16), they are 17-16 days old.

All three eggs in the Parking Lot #5 nest hatched on July 3, 2009, through a six hour period, beginning around 1400h-2000h respectively. Recovery staff were relieved as last years parking lot pair only hatched one chick out of four eggs. Unfortunately, between 2200h and 0530 on the evening/morning on July 7/8, two of the parking lot #5 chicks disappeared. There were no apparent vehicle tracks through the parking lot or on the shoreline so predation is assumed. There have been a few groups of ravens/crows hanging about in the parking lot from time to time (especially on the early morning shifts) and a fox seen in the Grand Beach area (however never seen on the shoreline or around the parking lot #5 area by staff/volunteers). Recovery staff will continue to concentrate much effort to ensure the parking lot lone chick survives to fledging keeping persons, dogs, etc. away from both the parking lot and shoreline area where the plovers forage.

As of July 16, the parking lot plover chick is 2 weeks old – from this date there are 10 more days of the intensive monitoring schedule at Grand Beach will promote the survival of our five chicks at Grand Beach.

The third pair at Grand Beach (West Beach pair) did not initiate a re-nest this year. Generally speaking most pairs that abandon their first nest will re-nest. One assumption this year is that the pair abandoned just prior to a week of extremely low temperatures southern Manitoba experienced in early June and this may have thrown the pair off a re-nest. They have been sighted along the shorelines of Grand Beach most days (last spotted on July 15). We are anticipating their return next year.

For the first time in Manitoba – all Piping Plover chicks were banded. The head of the Prairie Piping Plover implementation group banded all 8 chicks. Three bands were placed on each chick which will allow each individual bird to be identified (i.e. Manitoba, nesting location, and chick #3). In recent years, Manitoba has been producing increased numbers of chicks (2006 -13, 2007 – 6, 2008 – 8, 2009- 8?). Though chick survival has increased there has been relatively no increase in the adult breeding population in the province. Banding will allow recovery staff in Manitoba and other places where Piping Plovers occur to quantify where the Manitoba chicks are going (i.e. do they make it down to the Gulf of Mexico to over-winter, do they head to Saskatchewan or Alberta for breeding?). These are questions that we are currently unable to answer. We hope that banding will help further our understanding about our Manitoba’s Piping Plovers.