Facts and figures on the life of a piping plover. Click here to read about how local kids in Southold Town are helping protect them.
• When threatened, adults perform a “broken wing routine” by walking away from their nest and making themselves appear vulnerable to attract a predator’s attention in an attempt to keep their nests safe. If both parents are present, babies huddle under their mother’s wings for protection, keeping them out of sight while their father carries out the practice.
• To make nests, adults create depressions in the sand with their feet and use their bodies to hollow them out. They line nests with little pieces of shells.
• Female plovers usually lay between four and five eggs, at a rate of one egg every other day. They take 24 to 27 days to hatch, are speckled brownish-gray in color and are slightly larger than a robin’s egg.
• If a first nesting attempt fails, mates can attempt a second and third time. These nests often contain just three eggs.
• To successfully hatch, eggs must be kept around the same body temperature of the birds, which is about 98.6 degrees. When parents are frightened from the nest by predators or humans, eggs are left exposed and more susceptible to temperature changes and predators.
• Within a day of being hatched, babies are covered in down and start walking in search of food. But it takes them around a month to learn how to fly, so they still need protection from their parents.
• On average, only one baby per nest survives until it’s old enough to fledge, or fly.
• Plover diets consist of marine worms, insect larvae, beetles, small crustaceans and mollusks.
• Plovers spend winters along the East Coast, from Texas to North Carolina, and have been sighted as far south as the Bahamas.
* Data sourced from the state DEC, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and North Fork Audubon Society.
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