After spending the last three months nesting here in Nebraska, Piping Plovers have migrated south. Several of our lower Platte River plovers have already been re-sighted at their wintering sites along the Gulf Coast. These observations include a re-sighting of Erwin, our famous Piping Plover. Erwin is famous because he has been observed numerous times in winter in Florida. Erwin was banded as a three-day old chick at a lakeshore housing development in Dodge County, Nebraska, in June 2011. With his return on August 7th, it marks the fourth consecutive year at Bunche Beach near Fort Myers, Florida.
Piping Plovers do not lollygag or dawdle when it comes to their southbound migration. The first lower Platte River Piping Plover to return to the Gulf Coast this year was observed on July 21st at Honeymoon Island State Park, Florida. This plover was originally banded at a sand and gravel mine in Saunders County, Nebraska, as a chick in June 2012. This is the second year this plover has wintered at Honeymoon Island State Park, Florida.
The plover pictured below was originally banded along the lower Platte River in May 2010 and returned to the lower Platte River the last four years in a row. This summer this plover successfully nested and fledged two young plovers. This plover was last observed in Nebraska on June 30th and was observed at Elmer’s Island, Louisiana, on July 23th.
So far, we have received reports of six lower Platte River plovers that have safely made it to the Gulf Coast for the winter. Without question, we hope many more will show up in the coming months as we transition into the fall and winter months.