Newsroom Midwest Region

Old Man Plover’s legacy lives on

July 27, 2017

Old Man Plover's last chick. Photo by Vincent Cavalieri/USFWS.
Old Man Plover's last chick. Photo by Vincent Cavalieri/USFWS.

He was a legend, at least in terms of piping plovers. After tens of thousands of miles migrating between Michigan and South Carolina, 15 breeding seasons and raising 36 chicks, BO:X,g, also known as Old Man Plover, finally disappeared this season. It was inevitable; the Old Man likely finally fell to one of the many plover predators. But when he disappeared, the wheels of the Great Lakes Piping Plover recovery effort kicked into high gear.  Monitors at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore alerted the Service that BO:X,g’s nest may have been abandoned.

Plans were made to collect the eggs and take them to the University of Michigan Biological Station in Pellston, where the Detroit Zoo leads a salvage captive rearing effort.  After the monitors collected the eggs and handed them off to the zookeepers at the captive rearing station, it was discovered that perhaps due to Old Man Plover’s advanced age, only one of the four eggs was viable. However, with the help of the zookeepers at the station, this egg went on to hatch, the chick survived and fledged. The chick was banded Of,B/OO:X,G as an homage to old BO:X,g.

Last Friday a team of NPS staff, University of Minnesota Researchers and Service biologists released Of,B/OO:X,G, along with three other young plovers raised at the station.  The plovers were released at Sleeping Bear Dunes near Platte Point just a short distance from where BO:X,g had nested so successfully for a decade and a half.  Upon release the plovers flew and ran out of the transport carrier and onto the beach of Lake Michigan, experiencing for the first time the wind and waves of the Great Lakes.

These young plovers will now begin their great migration south where biologists along the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts will be watching for their arrival.  With a new generation of plovers fledging each day and beginning their migrations south, the recovery effort continues.
Stay up to date on recovery efforts for the piping plover by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and our partners.

Old Man Plover's last chick. Photo by Vincent Cavalieri/USFWS
Old Man Plover's last chick. Photo by Vincent Cavalieri/USFWS.