One of the endangered piping plovers at Sauble Beach has started laying eggs.
“I found the first egg Saturday morning and we put up the exclosure shortly after that. There's no way to know how many eggs are in there now, because we don't go in to check, but generally they lay an egg every other day,” Hayley Roberts, the outreach and education co-ordinator for the local Plover Lovers group, said in an interview Monday.
She said the egg was laid by the plover nicknamed Ms. Green Dots, who is back at Sauble for a third season in a row. She chose the same mate this year – the bird nicknamed Mr. Blue Bands – as she did last spring.
Ms. Green Dots lost two clutches of eggs and all her male partners in 2016, but successfully fledged four chicks last year.
The pair's nest is on the far north end of Sauble Beach by the tennis courts.
Female piping plovers lay three to four eggs and incubation only begins after the last one is laid so they can all hatch at the same time. Both the female and male plovers then take turns sitting on the eggs. Chicks hatch about 26 to 30 days after incubation begins.
Roberts said Plover Lover volunteers have observed six piping plovers at Sauble Beach. Another pair looks like they will soon create a nest, she said. The volunteers believe the other two plovers are also a male and a female.
Piping plovers, which are protected by both the federal Species at Risk Act and provincial Endangered Species Act, returned to Sauble Beach in 2007 after a 30-year absence.
They have been at the beach each year since. The first plover of this season was spotted April 30.
Last year was one of the most successful for the piping plover recovery program at Sauble Beach, as seven chicks fledged and headed south for the winter. Five others were killed by ring-billed gulls.
The time between when the chicks hatch and successfully fledge is when the birds are most vulnerable to being killed by a predator, such as gulls, dogs and foxes.
The Plover Lovers group is looking for more volunteers to help monitor the piping plovers while they're nesting at Sauble and until the chicks fledge. The volunteers also talk with beachgoers about the birds, answer questions and help to educate the public about how to help protect the plovers.
A volunteer training session is set for May 22 at Huron Feathers Presbyterian Centre.
Anyone interested can email email@example.com.