Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday's Foto

Weighing in at less than half a deck of playing cards, the diminutive Piping Plover is listed as federally "Threatened" and "Endangered" in New York State, receiving protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1985. Three North American breeding populations nest along Great Lakes beaches, on lakes and river shorelines of the northern Great Plains and on the Atlantic coastline from North Carolina to Newfoundland. Within New York City small numbers can be found nesting along the shore of the Rockaway peninsula from the Rockaways to Breezy Point. Feeding along beaches and intertidal mud and sand flats, their principle diet is marine worms, insect larvae, beetles, crustaceans, mollusks and other small marine animals and their eggs. Like many other species of birds, Piping Plovers were nearly wiped out during the 19th century due to excessive hunting for the millinery trade. Today, unfortunately their critical nesting habitat tends to overlap with humans recreational areas. Conservation efforts are attempting to increase their populations. Their winter range is along the Gulf of Mexico, the southern Atlantic coast of North America and the Caribbean. It was recently discovered that large numbers overwinter in the Bahamas.

Piping Plover chicks are precocial, able to walk and feed themselves shortly after hatching. Able to fly within 28 days, they still face predation from American Kestrels, Great Blue Herons, crows, owls, skunks, Raccoons, Foxes, Coyotes, Cats and Dogs.

Their scientific name, Charadrius melodus, means frequenting the shore; melodious. Melodious derives from its call notes, plaintive whistles, often heard before these tiny, sand-colored birds are seen.

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