Audubon’s “Melody” the Piping Plover

The Waterthrush Blog

Many years ago, I met Piping Plovers on the islands of the Virginia Coast Reserve.  My work there dealt with terns, skimmers, and gulls, but it was a real treat to spend two summers in that wild place and enjoy the other wildlife there.  Oystercatchers, Seaside Sparrows, Willets – these were creatures foreign to a young man from the dairy country of Central New York.

Perhaps the most endearing denizens of those lonely dunes and windswept beaches was the Piping Plover.  Small birds, the color of the sands that sustained them, these birds are as emblematic of wild beaches as Spotted Owls are ancient forests or Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are longleaf pine savannas.  To this day, when I imagine hearing the sweet “PEEP-lo!” of Piping Plovers, I hear it breaking through as a sweet melody above the regular static of ocean waves on the beach.  I hear it and feel…

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