The Ant Slaying Snowy Plover

/, Fort De Soto County Park, Snowy Plovers/The Ant Slaying Snowy Plover

The Ant and the Snowy PloverThe Ant and the Snowy Plover – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/1250, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light, prey provided by the bird

While photographing this Snowy Plover in June of 2008 I was able to observe the tiny shorebird snatch an ant from the sugar sand of the north beach of Fort De Soto. I watched as the plover stuffed the ant into the sand then waited a few seconds and then the bird  removed the ant from the sand and repeated the behavior several times before scarfing the ant down. To this day I am still not sure why the Snowy Plover did what it did but I do know that while watching it through my lens I was fascinated.



  1. Ilze Long November 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    such a cutie! I so enjoy your work.

  2. Bob Bushell November 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Brilliant photo Mia, the Plover v Ant, who won?

    • Mia McPherson November 20, 2012 at 6:01 am

      Bob, the plover ate the ant so it was the winner! Thanks for commenting.

  3. Rohrerbot November 18, 2012 at 9:17 am

    That shot is fascinating. Love how you captured the ant and tiny bird. Nicely done!

  4. Larry Jordan November 18, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Beautiful shot of this very interesting behavior Mia. If the ant was alive during this sequence, it makes me wonder if it was some kind of baiting behavior, waiting to see if there were other ants in the vicinity that may be alarmed somehow by this ant. Or, maybe the Plover was cleaning the ant off before eating it, or simply playing with its food?

    • Mia McPherson November 20, 2012 at 6:00 am

      Larry, I guess the behavior could have been any that you mentioned and did wonder about the plover cleaning off the chemical compounds that ants secrete when they are on the defense. Thanks for your comment.

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