Ready to Head North!
Great Lakes Piping Plovers are molting into alternate (breeding) plumage. They've replaced white and gray feathers around the head and neck with black, to create the forehead and neck bands they wear during breeding season. The bases of their bills are beginning to turn orange.
Within the next couple of weeks they'll be migrating north. We expect the first arrivals to get to breeding territories in mid-April.
Pat and Doris Leary - long-time winter monitors - took these photos at Cumberland Island, GA on 3/26/2023. All of these plovers are regular winter residents at Cumberland Island.
The plovers pictured, left to right are:
Of,YO:X,G - nicknamed YOGi. - is a male that hatched in 2014. He nests at Silver Lake State Park and is the father of the famous Monty of Montrose Park, Chicago.
Of,RY:X,V - named for her bands RYV (Rive) - is a female that hatched in 2021. She nested for the first time in 2022 on North Manitou Island, in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, MI.
-,O:X,b/O/b (yellow dot) is a male that also hatched in 2021. He spent the summer of 2022 holding territory near the mouth of the Platte River in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, MI but was unable to attract a mate. Hope he has better luck in 2023.
Of,Yb:X,R (very faded red band) is at least 11 years old. She wasn't banded as a chick so we don't know when or where she hatched. She began breeding in 2013 at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and was banded at that time. She nested at Sleeping Bear Dunes until 2020. In 2021 and 2022 she moved to Silver Lake State Park, and in 2022 was paired with YOGi.
Of,BV:X,Y - named for her bands BeVY - is a female that hatched in 2015. She has nested on North Manitou Island in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore each summer since 2017. She is well known for her loud voice and very protective attitude.
To learn more about Great Lakes Piping Plover color bands click HERE