We have a definite female joining our male! On Monday when I first spotted a pair of PiPls on the beach, I think I mistook them for a male and female because one was doing a kind of torpedo-like run, and the other was following behind. This behavior is often followed by nest scraping. I think what we actually saw was one male establishing his territory over the other male. Since Monday (Tuesday through Thursday), only one singular male has been seen foraging at Good Harbor Beach.
This morning my daughter Liv and I went to check on the little male and a beach goer gave us a heads up that she had seen two. Liv spotted the pair in the tide flats and they were most clearly a male and a female. The two were at any one time only several feet apart, foraging in the tidal zone and preening on the shore, primarily in front of the nesting No. 3 area. There were a bunch of dogs off leash, despite it being an on leash day, and there were several dogs on leash, too.
Will these two that are currently at Good Harbor Beach stay and mate and nest? Will we have more Piping Plover pairs join the scene (as did last year)? Will we have troubles with a “Bachleor” again? It’s still so early in the season and I sure am excited to see what lies ahead!
The following photos, of the pair currently at Good Harbor, were taken this morning in the rain, and despite the dreary light, clearly show the difference between male and female Piping Plovers. I am eventually going to redo this post with photos from a sunny day because it will be even easier to tell the difference.
Click the images to view larger and more easily see the difference.
Female Piping Plover, left, male Piping Plover, right
During the courting and nesting season, the female’s crescent-shaped head band is paler in color than the male’s jet black head band. The male’s collar band is usually darker and larger, too, often completely circling the neck. Typically, the male’s bill is a brighter, deeper color orange at the base than the female’s.
Female Piping PLover, left, male Piping Plover, right.
It’s very easy to tell the difference during courtship and mating because of behaviors exhibited and I’ll post more about that in the coming months.
There are exceptions to this general rule of thumb–sometimes a female will have darker shading and sometimes the male will be paler.
By the end of the summer, the coloring of both male and female becomes paler and it is much more challenging to see the difference between males and females.