Every year the recovery effort color bands Great Lakes Piping Plovers (GLPIPL). This means we put a unique combination of colored bracelets on the legs of each bird. These bands, and the process of putting them on, do not harm the birds. Numerous studies have been conducted that support this and show there is no need for concern with the bands. The bands actually reduce the number of interactions birds have with scientists in the long run. Having a unique combination allows for individuals to be identified on the beach from a far. Thus, we only need to see the bird and not capture it in order to know who a certain bird is.
The colors also help us tell which population a piping plover is from. Orange is exclusively used by the Great Lakes Recovery Effort. Thus, if you ever see a piping plover on the beach with orange bands you know it hatched in the Great Lakes region and was banded by us. The Great Plains and Atlantic populations do not have one solely exclusive color given the extensive areas covered by these groups of plovers.
Banded birds also allow us to follow them throughout their life, and even throughout the world.
A GLPIPL that was born and subsequently banded this past summer in 2014 was found in the Bahamas this winter. This was a huge discovery both to have found a chick on the wintering grounds and to have found it in the Bahamas.
Recently though, this same bird was found on a beach in Pender County, North Carolina. Not only does this indicate that this specific bird has survived the winter but this sighting also indicates that spring migration has begun! We can’t wait to see this bird in the Great Lakes and continue to follow it. Who knows where it will breed and with what other plover? How many chicks will this plover raise?
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