2016-07-14 / Nature

Joy and Agony in Nature

By Jack Kelly


A piping plover chick explores new surroundings under watchful eyes. 
(Photo by Rey Larsen) A piping plover chick explores new surroundings under watchful eyes. (Photo by Rey Larsen) According to Ryan Kleinert, wildlife biologist and piping plover coordinator for the Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, there have been major developments for the nesting piping plover pairs on Sachuest and Third beaches in recent days.

“The pair at Third Beach, which were incubating eggs near the rim of the marsh, realized the hatching of their eggs between Sunday and Monday morning,” Kleinert reported.

This is the fourth attempt by this pair to successfully nest. Their first two nests were lost to predators, while their third nest was lost to the new moon high tide in early June. Observers have reported that three of the four eggs in the nest have hatched and the chicks are following their parents to the water’s edge to forage. The adults will hide the chicks in the dunes between feeding sessions, and allow the young to brood under their wings for protection from predators and the heat of the day. This is a dangerous time for the chicks, as they are vulnerable to predation by a host of animals and are sensitive to intrusions by humans. Remember that these tiny creatures are no bigger than a cotton ball and hard to see on the sandy beach. Please give this young family a wide berth at Third Beach.

Meanwhile, Kleinert said that the nest at Sachuest Beach, which was believed to be a renest attempt by the pair that recently lost their young to house sparrows, was destroyed by avian predators this past weekend. “While we thought this was a renest attempt, it was determined to be a double brooding opportunity by the pair which had already raised one chick to fledgling status earlier this summer. This does not happen often at all,” Kleinert said. “This pair lost three out of four chicks to probable predation during their first nesting attempt. The female, with leg tag 6XW, was spotted on the nest after a few days. Now that a portion of our population is banded, we will be able to keep a closer eye on this type of situation.” Double brooding occurs when a pair has already raised young to fledgling status during a season, such as the successful pair at Sachuest Beach, and attempts to nest and raise a second brood.

Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others.

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