Cats, both feral and domestic, pose a threat to the Island’s fragile piping plover population, biologists say. But an effort to humanely trap the cats has raised concern among members of an Island group that finds homes for unwanted cats.
Norton Point Closed to Vehicles to Protect Piping Plover Chicks
By JAMES KINSELLA
Over the past four days, public and private officials have closed
sections of Norton Point and East Beach to four-wheel-drive vehicles to
protect newly hatched piping plover chicks and nests with eggs yet to
In Massachusetts, the piping plover is a threatened species. After
hatching, the chicks take about 30 days before they fly, making them
vulnerable to the tires of four-wheel-drive vehicles driving along a
So you think life is tough? You should be a baby piping plover. Born in a mere scrape in the sand, expected by your parents to fend for yourself from birth, facing danger at every turn from skunks, raccoons, crows, hawks, storms, off-road tires.
And yet the tiny birds — and there are not that many of them left — appear to be doing pretty well on the Vineyard this year, albeit with the help of a social safety net that would be the envy of hard-scrabble humans.
In January, while Vineyarders endured battering sleet storms and mid-winter cabin fever, at least one of the Island’s piping plovers was enjoying a respite from the New England doldrums in the Caribbean. After a two-decade hiatus in researching plover migration, scientists from the Canadian Wildlife Service again started a tagging effort this winter in the Bahamas that has just begun to offer insight into the migration and behavior of this tenacious and much ballyhooed little creature, one of whom will call Aquinnah home this summer.
Shorebirds nest on our beaches every year. As of June 23, The Trustees of Reservations were monitoring three piping plover nests on the Elbow, three pairs of recently hatched piping plover chicks on Leland Beach, and two large colonies of least, common and roseate terns on Norton Point Beach Edgartown.
As required by state and federal regulation, The Trustees are monitoring these nests and chicks and are providing the birds with adequate habitat to feed their young. The chicks can move around the property and are difficult to see.
Tashmoo Beach will be closed for about a month after a piping plover nest was found Monday on Herring Creek Road.
Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary director Suzan Bellincampi said the nest contains four eggs and is located along the side of Herring Creek Road just before the parking area. Federal and state laws mandate a 100-yard protective perimeter around plover nests; Ms. Bellincampi said closing the beach is the only way to abide by those rules.
A rare Wilson’s plover arrived on-Island May 18. It was discovered by Liz Baldwin and Luanne Johnson, the team from Biodiversity Works that is monitoring piping plovers and American oystercatchers on many of the Island beaches. They spotted the Wilson’s plover at Squibnocket and found it was keeping the company of a piping plover. Turns out the Wilson’s plover is a female and the piping plover a male; ah the odd couple!