Fifteen-day-old Piping Plover chicks
Last year I posted a similarly titled post, Happy Father’s Day! Brought to You By Papa Plover,with a photo of Papa PiPl snuggling our one remaining chick, Pip.
This year we have a sweet photo from yesterday of our Papa PiPl snuggling all three chicks, not just one chick as was the case last year on Father’s Day. I wrote, “Whenever folks stop by to ask questions at the nesting area and they see the little chicks snuggling under the adult PiPl, they almost automatically assume it is the Mama Plover. Half the time it is the female, and the other half, the male. Mom and Dad share equally in caring for the chicks, generally in twenty minute to half hour intervals. They are always within ear shot and while one is minding the chicks, the other is either feeding itself, grooming, or patrolling for predators. Last year, as is often the case, the Mama Plover departed Good Harbor Beach several weeks before the chick fledged, leaving Little Chick entirely under Papa’s care.”
But there is more to the story about what makes Piping Plover males Super Dads. Papa is not only an excellent Dad in that he is a fifty/fifty caretaker of the chicks, but male Plovers are also fierce defenders of their family. Our Papa is no exception. He is always on high alert, especially when it comes to the Bachelor and his antics. Between gulls, crows, other avian predators, human caused disturbances, and even danger from one of their own kind, it’s not easy being a Plover Dad.
Papa Plover warming the three chicks. They were fifteen days old on Saturday morning.
The Bachelor tries to camp out in the protected area. Papa is having none of it and leaps up to give chase to the Bachelor.
Papa and the Bachelor smack down over command of the protected area.
Male Piping Plovers fight, and even bite, competing males for mates and for nesting territory.