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The Story of Green Dot

Lynn Richardson
Ms. Green Dot
Ms. Green Dot

Last summer we posted about “The Pipers of Sauble Beach”, and how these small endangered shorebirds would face numerous challenges throughout their short summer nesting season on Sauble’s sandy shores.  And, as we mentioned last year, each plover has a personal story of adventure, challenges, losses and successes!  So lets take peek into the life and times of just one plover – Ms Green Dot, a female plover named for the green dot on her upper left leg band.

Green Dot hatched on a Michigan beach in 2015. In 2016, she came to Sauble and paired with “Mr. Lonely”, a male who had spent the whole previous summer at Sauble without finding a female friend – after all Piping Plovers are endangered and there just so few around!  Lonely and Green Dot soon had four eggs on the go, but part way through the 28-day incubation he fell victim to an overnight predator!  Green Dot had to abandon their nest as plovers share “domestic” incubating duties and she simply couldn’t go it alone.

However, instinct pushes these birds to re-nest, so she then hooked up with "Port Boy", a male who had nested at Port Elgin in 2014, but had not found a female at Sauble Beach in 2015, or as yet in 2016. They nested, but Port Boy was also predated!  

So Green Dot, at only 1 year old, had already lost two mates and two nests.  

A New Mate for Ms. Green Dot
A New Mate for Ms. Green Dot

After a winter “down south” somewhere Green Dot  returned to Sauble Beach and paired up with 3 year old” Mr Blue Bands” (for the blue bands on both his lower legs).  They scraped out their nest in the foredunes by the river and laid 4 eggs.  But trouble was brewing! Blue Bands did not like incubating!  Most plover pairs switch each other off on a regular schedule and each takes its fair turn at incubation.  Blue Bands however, would show up late and leave at the first opportunity. He would frequently get off the eggs while on duty and run about picking up tiny shells, pebbles or grasses, tossing them around the nest. Once, his antics resulted in an egg being bumped out of the nest. However, he bumped it back into the nest before Green Dot was any the wiser!!

Despite Blue Band’s dereliction of duty the pair eventually hatched out four chicks and successfully raised them all to fledging (flying). This is a feat rarely accomplished in a single plover family! Obstacles stand in their way every day, and every night. But this family somehow beat the odds! Three chicks from a second nest also fledged and these wee “Sauble Seven” provided beachgoers a few weeks of enchanting entertainment til they fledged and flew. With news of the Sauble Seven as well as the nesting adults , tour groups, birders and photographers flocked to the beach along with many beachgoers to view these rare birds, reflecting a growing “ecotourism” sector at Sauble Beach. 

The story continues in 2018!  Green Dot and Blue Bands have arrived back at Sauble again this year!  This provides a rare opportunity to continue our look into their life history.  Already we see evidence of their perilous hold on survival, as Green Dot did not come through the winter unscathed. Her foot has been injured and it is turned in, making her even more pigeon-toed than normal.  

We wish Green Dot and Blue Bands and whoever else arrives the best of luck this season. We love to share the shore with these fascinating birds. Beachgoers who stop by for a peek at the plovers are soon captivated by the story of Green Dot, Blue Bands and the others! Come check out their continuing saga on the beach!