Piping Plover

Piping Plover

Ram Island Farm (and The Sprague Corporation) has been working closely with Maine Audubon in the effort to preserve the Piping Plover in Maine. Ram Island Farm beaches are excellent habitat for these little birds whose existence in Maine is very precarious. In 2008 there were only 24 nesting pairs in Maine. They produced 115 eggs, 85 chicks and 42 fledglings. Arriving in early April, nesting begins in May and June. Eggs are laid right on the sand in little scooped out depressions. Their only defenses are their camouflage and the “wounded wing” ploy to draw away predators (crow, fox, coyote, skunk, sea gulls). The eggs take four weeks to hatch and it can take up to another four weeks before the chicks are able to fly. Immediately after hatching they get right up and start scurrying around the beach looking for food. They are almost impossible to see. They look like little fluff balls on stilts. When they are scared they simply freeze, and are easily stepped on.

In 2008 two pairs nested on Strawberry Beach, producing two chicks that fledged. A pair also nested on the Ram’s Head beach with four eggs that produced one chick that fledged on July 25.

Signs are posted on Ram Island Farm beaches warning of nesting plovers and nests are fenced where possible. Dogs on the beach continue to be a real problem. Even leashed dogs are perceived by the birds to be predators, and disrupt the birds’ nesting attempts.