Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Plovers at Riis Park

On Sunday I pedaled down to Jacob Riis Park in the morning. With temperature predictions of 85 degrees, it would be the coolest place to spend the day.

The tide was low when I parked my bicycle and I could hear the periodic "toot" of Piping Plovers as they scurried along the tidal zone. Piping Plovers are relatively common along that stretch of coast, but what I didn't expect was to see two, absolutely minuscule hatchlings following the adults piping calls. My words cannot sufficiently describe these diminutive creatures. They seem to defy all odds as they saunter along the beach, feeding themselves while avoiding predators and gargantuan human sun worshipers. Adult Piping Plovers weigh, on average, 55 grams. videoOne online document I found stated that these precocious hatchlings weigh, on average, 7.4 grams on hatching. Within 15 days they weigh about 27 grams. That means that a newly hatched Piping Plover (which begins feeding itself immediately) weighs the equivalent of 3 American pennies or two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. If they sneezed, would it send them skittering across the sand? Here's a short video of one plover hatchling chasing along behind one of the parents. Listen for the "toot" of the parents. I was concerned that a small flock of gulls lurking nearby might snatch one of young birds, but they either didn't notice them or didn't care. The parents were very aggressive towards a lone Sanderling in the area, but didn't bother with the gulls. I guess the larger birds were more interested in french fries and stray bits of junk food.

1 comment:

Yojimbot said...

That is the cutest thing in the world.

Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope