The equivalent of Piping Plover royalty were spotted wintering in Florida this year! In 2017, for the first time in 60 years, two pairs of Piping Plovers nested in Pennsylvania on the shores of Lake Erie. One nest fledged two chicks; the other was overwashed but the eggs were collected and hatched in captivity. Pennsylvanians followed the story eagerly as the two incubator chicks returned to the lake shore, all four chicks were banded, and they departed in August on their first migration.
Where would they winter? And would they survive? Imagine the relief and excitement when the first of the two naturally-reared youngsters was spotted on October 3, 2017 by Audubon Florida biologist Laura Garey at Phipps Preserve in the Panhandle. Biologist Anne Mauro, Rookery Bay Reserve, spotted its sibling (pictured below) just 20 days later on Keewaydin Island, south of Naples.
One of the incubator-hatched birds was resighted at McClamory Key near Cedar Key on Halloween morning by Pat and Doris Leary. The fourth bird remains a mystery. Did it survive? Did it winter somewhere unseen? You can help Audubon biologists track these amazing birds too! Keep your eyes peeled, record what you see, and report your sighting on Audubon’s Florida Banded Bird Resightings Facebook page or email: FLConservation@audubon.org.