Lots of folks are asking, “how does Piping Plover Super Mom manage with her missing foot?” She has adapted beautifully however, you can see from these short clips, that it takes much more effort to get around.
If you see Plovers on the beach know that one may be Super Mom. Plovers need minimal disruption as they are becoming established at their nesting sites and Super Mom even more so.
Thank you for giving the Plovers all the space that they need!
In the summer of 2021, one of the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover’s foot became entangled in dried seaweed and monofilament. Over the winter she lost all the toes on her right foot. She returned to GHB in 2022. Piping Plover Super Mom has adapted in how she walks, runs, forages, preens, and even in how she mates. Over the summer of 2022 she and her long time partner, Super Dad, successfully raised four chicks to fledge. She has again returned to her nesting site in the spring of 2023. She is healthy, foraging well, and nest scraping with her mate!
We’d like to send a heartfelt thank you to the Gloucester Daily Times staff writer Ethan Forman and editor-in-chief Andrea Holbrook for writing about our Good Harbor Beach Plovers. We friends of Cape Ann Plovers appreciate so much your thoughtful writing and taking the time to get the story straight!
Mass Audubon to help protect threatened plovers
By Ethan Forman
The sighting of the one-footed piping plover Super Mom, and others like her on Good Harbor Beach during the last week in March, coincides with human activity there meant to help preserve and protect coastal shorebirds during the busy summer beach season.
That includes the installation of symbolic fencing made up of metal posts and yellow rope around the dunes with signs letting beachgoers know the “Restricted Area” is “a natural breeding ground for piping plovers.”
“These rare birds, their nests and eggs are protected under Massachusetts and federal laws,” the signs read.
The nation’s oldest seaport is taking extra steps this year to monitor and minimize disturbances to Super Mom and others of her threatened species of small, stocky migratory birds that have made the popular beach their summer home in recent years.
On Monday, the city announced it had entered into an agreement with Mass Audubon to help with the monitoring and management of coastal nesting birds, including piping plovers, on the city’s public beaches, according to a press release.
We are overjoyed to share that our Super Mom and Dad have reunited!
Early last week while checking on Plovers, it appeared as though one of the sets of Plover tracks was our Super Mom. The day was very windy and the tracks were disappearing as I was filming however, they looked like tracks made by a peg leg. Later in the week, I spotted the pair we have been seeing since the last week in March. Because of the cold and wind they had been laying low. But sure enough, as soon as the female moved, it was clear she was our handicapped Mom!
Handicapped Mom’s tracks
I think it’s truly extraordinary that our handicapped Mom has twice been able to make the round trip migration south to north and north to south, despite her missing digits. With her missing toes, she has had to totally adapt in how she walks, runs, stands, forages, nests, preens and even how she mates.
Wildlife can be remarkably resilient. I am reminded of the Great Lakes Old Man Plover, one of the oldest Plovers on record. When he was about 11 years old, he lost the toes on his left leg, just like our Super Mom has lost hers on her right leg. He continued to return to Sleeping Bear Dunes until 2017, when he disappeared.He was fifteen years old when last seen.
We also have a handsome bachelor who is actively calling for a mate. Hopefully his loud piping will entice a migrating female to check out GHB!
One Plover has been spotted at Cape Hedge by Plover Ambassador Paula. The weather was cold and windy and the PiPl was difficult to see from a distance whether male or female.
Piping Plovers are extremely vulnerable to disturbance while trying to establish their nests. If you see them on the beach, give them a nod, but please give them lots and lots of space. We all thank you for your kind consideration!
Nest-making – Dad on the left, our Mom with her missing foot on the right
If you would like to join our Piping Plover Ambassador group, please email me at email@example.com, or leave a comment in the comment section and I will get back to you. Thank you.