Snowy Plover foraging in the mud – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
It is always nice to be able to point out a lifer bird to someone else and that is what I did on June 25th after I spotted a tiny Snowy Plover at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge foraging in the mud. Even from a long distance I knew what the shorebird was from its movements, walk, walk, walk, stop, walk, walk, walk, stop… the little bird had to be a plover and my knowledge of the ranges of the plovers pointed directly to a Snowy Plover ID. I wish I’d gotten to the plover quicker though because when I first saw it the bird was closer to the road.
This photo was taken from inside a vehicle being used as a mobile blind and I can honestly say I wish I had been out in the mud with the tiny bird instead, I might have been able to get closer to the bird.
This Snowy Plover wasn’t a lifer for me but it was the first time I’ve been able to get a fairly decent image of one since I moved back out West, the other times I have spotted them they have been teeny tiny spots out on the playa that were barely recognizable in the photos I took of them.
Sunrise Snowy Plover – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light
In Florida I saw Snowy Plovers on the beaches of the Gulf Coast, this one was photographed on a February morning at Fort De Soto County Park in Pinellas County. The birds at the park are used to humans being around them and that can make them more approachable than the shorebirds I find out here in Utah. I loved being able to sand crawl on my belly to get within range of this plover without even making it nervous. All the tiny bird did was stand there resting in the morning light.
I adore Snowy Plovers and will photograph them anywhere I find these delightful little shorebirds.
Life is good.
Snowy Plover facts and information:
- Snowy Plovers are small, pale shorebirds with dark legs, white underparts and pale tan backs. They have a dark “cheek” in breeding plumage
- Snowy Plovers are migratory. There are two subspecies, those who breed in the western U.S. and those that breed in the eastern U.S.
- Snowy Plover habitat includes salt flats, barren beaches, sparsely vegetated beaches, spoil islands, levees and near alkaline and saline lakes.
- Snowy Plovers eat small crustaceans and soft bodied aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.
- Snowy Plovers lay 2 to 3 eggs which hatch in 26 to 31 days. Both sexes incubate. They can have more than one brood per season. The females often leave the male with the chicks and mates with another male.
- A group of plovers is called a “ponderance”, “deceit”, “congregation”, “brace” or a “wing” of plovers.
- Snowy Plovers can live to be at least 15 years old.
Snowy Plover populations are declining on the Pacific and Gulf Coasts and are listed as Threatened in some parts of their range due to human disturbances on the beaches were they nest.