17 Snowy Plover Chicks Hatched So Far in Nesting Season
The 2022 snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) nesting season started earlier than it has in the last few years with the first nest initiated in late March. Five nesting pairs have made nine nest attempts so far, and of those nine nests, seven have successfully hatched out chicks.
One nest was lost to depredation by crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos), and one was lost to a tropical weather event in early June. Another nest was inundated during that same storm, but the birds returned to incubate the following day and it eventually hatched two chicks that are now a month old and near fledging.
Of the 17 chicks hatched so far, three have survived to fledging age, two are getting close, and another five are recently hatched and still very small and vulnerable.
“SCCF staff and volunteers are out daily monitoring the birds and educating the public,” said Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht.
One remarkable bird managed to incubate their nest alone and raised two chicks to fledging age. No mate was ever observed at the nest or with the chicks. This adult was found dead over Memorial Day weekend. Necropsy results revealed no sickness and found the cause of death to be trauma. The chicks disappeared shortly after.
Staff and volunteers remain hopeful that they successfully fledged and left the island. Chicks are banded with unique color combinations so that they can be monitored after they leave Sanibel. Reports are received through a variety of sources including E-bird, Facebook, email, and the Bird Banding Laboratory.
Two of Sanibel’s three 2021 fledges have been documented nesting at Fort Myers Beach in 2022. One of Sanibel’s five 2020 fledglings currently has two chicks who are about to fledge.
“Despite our relatively low numbers of fledges in recent years, Sanibel is still a source population producing fledglings that eventually go on to nest in other locations,” said Albrecht.
To report any sightings of nests or fledglings, please email email@example.com.