Piping Plovers Prosh and Cute!

Well, I just finished with a really cool and productive meeting with fellow bird bloggers (so fun to meet some of them face to face) and Swarovski. I learned many things (including the fact that Jeff Foxworthy is a big fan of Swarovski Optik...do you suppose he uses his optics for birding?) and much of what I learned will be part of a glut of blogging when I get home--I have to cover a 22 mile Mississippi River canoe paddle, birding with fellow bird bloggers on the east coast and then barely making it back in time to go on a shorebird watching trip this weekend on the South Dakota/Minnesota border...who knew I would find wireless in South Dakota?

But this entry needs to be short as I should really be using this free time on the shorebird trip to finish an article that's a tad late for one of the bestest, most wonderful, beautiful, most forgiving, talented, even keeled editor I ever had.

Here's a quick sneak peak of birding Cape Cod with bird bloggers:

We found a family group of the threatened/endangered piping plover! This cute little plover is the adult and is about the size of a sparrow. They're so adorable, I think it you got some Cute Overload worthy photos and put those posters up, make some cuddly plush dolls, and a t-shirt line, people would get on board with saving them like they did with bald eagles and peregrine falcons.

Ben of 600 Birds noticed a chick--then three chicks! Julie Zickefoose was also part of the birding group and she noted that the chicks were about four days old. Ben said it best: that the chicks were so tiny and fluffy, it was hard to tell if we actually had them in focus in our cameras. They really appeared to be cotton balls scurrying around on match sticks. Julie noted that this seemed late for piping plover chicks and wondered if these little guys would learn to fly in time for their long migration?

If you looked closely at one of the adults, you could see the plumage was very worn. Was this a second or third time of renesting and the birds were tired and physically worn out or was this typical molt for this time of year? Did they lose an earlier batch of chicks or were they going for the gold and having successfully raised one brood, going for a second? Tough to say, but you could see this adult was tired.

It plopped down on the sand and you could see its eyes start to close (not unlike what I'm feeling right now after such an adventurous week). I sat on the sand with my scope low, taking what photos I could of the soon to be dosing piping plover and marveled at my luck of getting a chance to digiscope such a cute bird, when all of a sudden...

IT YAWNED! Piping plovers are as cute as a button as it is, now make it yawn and it's too prosh for words! And if you thought that was the cutest thing ever, let me leave you with a video of piping plover chicks running on the beach. They are precocial, meaning they can pretty much feed themselves not long after they hatch, relying on their parents to keep them warm and help protect them from predators. Now brace yourself for cotton ball goodness: