The First Piping Plovers return to Great Lakes Beaches!
On April 12th long-time (and very excited) plover monitor, Chelsea Loomis, found the first Piping Plovers of the 2021 Great Lakes plover breeding season at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. She not only found one, but a second, and they are pairing up, already scraping and doing tilt display.
The male (Of,Yb:X,G) has been the first back, or tied for first, many times. He winters on Bull’s Island in South Carolina, where BO:X,g, another early-returning plover, also spent his winters. Of,Yb:X,G hatched at Muskegon State Park, MI in 2015. His first nesting season was spent in Illinois at the John Mansfield site. In 2017 he moved to Sleeping Bear Dunes, where he has nested each year since then.
The female is from Sleeping Bear Dunes. She hatched in 2018 near the south boundary of the park. She nested for the first time at Sleeping Bear Point in 2020 but lost her mate during incubation. He was very likely caught by a Merlin. She apparently hurried back to get a good territory this summer. No one has ever reported seeing her during the winter, so we don’t know where she goes.