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Old Man Plover’s final chick made the 1200-mile journey to Florida. Photo courtesy of Peter Brannon.

Old Man Plover’s final chick made the 1200-mile journey to Florida. Photo courtesy of Peter Brannon.

Old Man Plover Jr. makes it to wintering grounds

When last we reported on Old Man Plover's final chick, it was sitting quietly on a beach amongst some driftwood and cobble along Lake Michigan, fresh from being released from captivity. It faced numerous challenges, including predators, storms and potentially a lack of stopover habitat, just to reach safe wintering grounds. Now, just a little more than a month later, we have some exciting news to report. Peter Brannon, a birder and photographer spotted the chick -- whose band combo is abbreviated Of,B/OO:X,G -- at Fort De Soto Park on the Gulf Coast of Florida. This area, along with coastal South Carolina and Georgia, are the three most important wintering grounds for endangered Great Lakes piping plovers. The chick made the more than 1,200-mile journey from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan to Fort De Soto Park all on its own without having to learn the route from a parent, just as all young piping plovers do. Reaching a safe and quality wintering site like Fort De Soto is an important and essential step for a young plover in order for it to survive and return to the Great Lakes to breed.

More good news: Late in August, long-time plover monitor Pat Leary spotted another captive-reared chick, released at the same time as Of,B/OO:X,G, at Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia. About 1,000 miles from the release site, Cumberland Island is another winter haven for Great Lakes piping plovers. To have two captive-reared plovers from the same release spotted so soon after departing from the breeding grounds is definitely an encouraging sign for the long-term survival of these birds. It is also a positive affirmation that working together the many conservation partners that helped make this story a success, including the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Detroit Zoo, University of Minnesota, University of Michigan and monitors and volunteers on the wintering grounds, is helping to bring the Great Lakes piping plover back from the brink of extinction.

By Vince Cavalieri
Michigan Ecological Services Field Office

This piping plover chick migrated from Lake Michigan to Cumberland Island, Georgia. Photo courtesy of Pat Leary.

This piping plover chick migrated from Lake Michigan to Cumberland Island, Georgia. Photo courtesy of Pat Leary.  

 

Last updated: September 13, 2017