Two chicks from one piping plover nest in Island Beach State Park’s Southern Natural Area recently fledged, or flew for the first time.
“The fledging of two chicks from this location is great news for recovery of the federally threatened and state endangered piping plovers in New Jersey,” a New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife spokesperson said in a release. “NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists hope this is an indication of a rebounding population after population swings witnessed between 2003 and 2014.”
The chicks were from the first ocean-side nest in more than 25 years and the first in Island Beach State Park in more than a decade, according to the release.
But it wasn’t an easy path for the piping plover parents and their brood.
The state reported that four chicks hatched in early July, with one quickly lost to an unknown cause — “most likely predation,” the spokesperson said — which is common with this species.
Then a few weeks later, observers did not see another chick for three days, eventually determining it to have been lost.
On July 23, one of the remaining chicks was observed with a moderate limp, and after examination, specialists treated the injury with leg bands as piping plovers “do not fare particularly well in rehab,” the release said.
But two days after the leg band application, experts determined that the chick weighed much less than its sibling and the limp was quite pronounced. The chick then spent four days at Toms River Avian Care before returning to the nest.
By late July, the flight feathers were developing, signaling imminent flight. The uninjured chick was observed taking a short sustained flight on August 6.