The Indiana Audubon Society is hosting a fantastic event this year: the Piping Plover Pursuit! The event takes place from 8:00 a.m. to noon on August 12, 2017, and it is free for IAS members (non-IAS members pay a small $10 fee). IAS Executive Director Brad Bumgardner is leading this field trip, so participants are in for an adventure. I call Brad the “Bird Whisperer”; if you want to see a specific bird, there’s almost a guarantee the bird will come flying in and pose for you when it sees Brad approaching! Every birding trip I have ever taken with Brad resulted in either lifers or spectacular views of birds. You’ll learn a great deal during Brad’s birding trips and you’ll have fun doing it. Sign up for this lakeshore event on the IAS Events webpage. You won’t regret it!
Although Brad will expose you to a multitude of birds during the event, the target bird is of course the Piping Plover, among the rarest birds in North America. They are listed as endangered in the Great Lakes, and threatened along the Atlantic coast.
Disney Pixar recently released “Piper”, a short film featuring a young Piping Plover. While the bird’s behavior is not exactly true-to-life in the movie, it did help make the Piping Plover a household name. The bird in the film is ridiculously cute, and quite honestly the birds are just as adorable in real life.
I saw this Piping Plover on a beach in Virginia this summer. During low tide I was strolling along the beach collecting shells when some movement caught my eye several feet away at the high tide mark. A Piping Plover! I couldn’t speak, and I almost forgot to breathe! I had never seen a Piping Plover so close before. I watched the bird for a long time, thanking my lucky stars for such a rare treat.
Piping Plovers act a bit differently from the stereotypical shorebirds. Plovers tend to be loners, rather than feeding or nesting in large groups. They prefer to search for food a bit further away from the water’s edge than many shorebirds. They can be difficult to spot; they move quickly, and with their coloring they can disappear almost instantly as they blend perfectly with the sand and shells.
These birds are exceptionally rare due to habitat loss and disturbance, off-road vehicles, loose pets, and other factors, so I would encourage you to see one while you can. Your best chance of spotting one is with Brad. Brad is one of the most knowledgeable and talented birders you’ll ever find. Sign up for the IAS Piping Plover Pursuit. Once you see these adorable birds and learn about them from Brad, you will be smitten and you’ll be driven to protect Piping Plovers so that future generations will be able to enjoy these little cotton balls.