Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Piping Plover
 
 

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  Order Charadriiformes - Plovers, Sandpipers, Gulls, Terns, Auks
   Family Charadriidae - Lapwings and Plovers
      Subfamily Charadriinae - Typical Plovers

  Charadriiforms are a diverse group of shore and aquatic or wading or terrestrial birds. They include the sandgrouse, shore birds, gulls and terns, and alcids. The majority breed in the Northern Hemisphere.
   The Tree of Life includes shorebirds with the Ciconiiformes.
Plovers have a relatively short and inflated bill. Most live in open habitat near water. They find most of their food by sight, running - then pausing - and running again. They have large eyes and some forage at night. This group includes plovers, lapwings, and the dotterel. 
Ringed Plovers - Wet Sand, Dry Sand Plovers. The remaining four species of plover found on Seabrook are smaller than the Black-bellied Plover and can be characterized by the color of their back. The Snowy and Piping Plovers' backs are very light - like dry sand on the beach. Semipalmated and Wilson's Plovers, on the other hand, have darker backs - like the wet sand bathed by the swash... All of the ringed plovers have a dark tip to their tail. Contrast this with the dark central and light lateral feathers on the tail of many sandpipers.
     
     
  Piping Plover, Charadrius melodus
 
Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        WINTER, MIGRATION - Common / Uncommon (fewer in summer)
            LAGOON, BEACH (coastal, above swash zone)
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   Piping Plovers are stocky, pale ("dry sand") plovers with yellow legs. The bill is short and dark (adult males in spring have an orange bill). Most of the birds we see have a pale breast band, usually incomplete. In adult males it is darker but is narrow and broken in front. 
Piping Plover
     
Piping Plover. North Beach - fall.
   
  RANGE: This endangered species breeds in the high Great Plains and along our northern coast and winters on our beaches and the Gulf coast. In 1986 there were fewer than 20 breeding pairs in the Great Lakes area and fewer than 4500 birds remain. It is threatened by disappearing habitat and recreation in the breeding areas but probably faces few unique dangers here. It is now listed as a threatened species.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood. Piping Plovers nest on sandy or alkaline shores of salty shallow lakes, sandbars in rivers, and sandy beaches on the coast. Their  nest is a scrape in sand or gravel well above the tide line, often lined with objects. Extra scrapes may be made but not used. Both sexes build. They may nest near tern colonies. Females usually lay 4 (2-5) eggs which both parents incubate for 25-31 days. Young are precocial and leave the nest soon after hatching. They follow their parents to find food. Both parents brood during cool weather but the female often deserts them in a few days - well before the male. Young fly after 20-35 days. Some pairs may remain together for several years and males tend to return to previous nest sites.
  DIET: Coastal populations feed on marine worms, crustaceans, insects, and other marine invertebrates. Inland, they eat primarily insects (beetles, water boatmen, shore flies, midges, etc.).
  VOICE: Piping Plovers have clear, mellow whistles - "peep, peeto" - low pitched and gentle. When agitated they give an endless series of low, soft whistles. You will sometimes hear their complaint if you get too close and force a feeding group to move.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook. Kiawah - common fall through spring, uncommon summer. Edisto - winter.
      Coastal - uncommon (local) winter visitor. Hilton Head - uncommon winter visitor. Cape Romain - occasional/absent/occasional/occasional.          Huntington Beach - uncommon July - April; rare May.
      CBC: Charleston 0, 4, 0, 3, 3, 0, 1, 0;
            St, Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 14, 1; Hilton Head 4, 5, 8, 8, 18, 12, 4, 4;
            McClellanville 2, 2, 1, 9, nc, 3, 5, 4; Winyah Bay x, x, 3, 10, 2, 1, 4, 3; Litchfield/Pawley's 5, 2, 2, 2, 5, CW, 1, 3.
   P&G: Uncommon to fairly common winter visitor, 2 August - 22 May. Maximum 25, Huntington beach, 5 January 1987.
   Avendex: 11 records, scattered (including May and June).
   Potter: Uncommon to fairly common winter resident along the coast from early August to late May. It appears to nest on beaches from Cape Hatteras southward to Waites Island.
  ●  Fairly common migrants. On Seabrook, Piping Plovers are often seen around the former lagoon and are found on the upper beach. If more than one bird is present, they tend to stay together (a group in the gallery contains 19 individuals feeding in the swash zone on North Beach during spring migration ). Groups of 3 or 4 are more common. They are less common in winter (see low Christmas counts in other coastal areas)...
       
    Banner - Piping Plover, North Beach.
       
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