Parker the Plover:
Home for the Holidays
We have recently added the new piping plover to our Shorebirds Exhibit!
After months in quarantine, she’s finally been cleared for exhibit and was introduced to her new home this month.
The little girl is a rescue from Wild Care in Eastham, Mass. While the hope is to always rehabilitate and release wild animals that need a little help, this plover could not be released due to underdeveloped feather growth on her right wing.
Observers with the National Park Service (NPS) had been watching her and her nest mates at Race Point Beach in Provincetown over the summer, concerned that she was smaller than the others. When her siblings fledged and flew away, this little plover couldn’t fly along with them. She continued to forage and grow with other plovers on the beach, but rescuers with the NPS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife soon realized one of her wings was much smaller than the other. They brought her to Wild Care, and an X-ray revealed that her wing had been injured as a young chick. She would never fly at full range. So rescuers found a permanent home for her with us at the Aquarium.
A New Home
The chick’s introduction to the exhibit was uneventful. While the other plovers in the exhibit are mildly territorial in response to this new friend, this behavior should dissipate as the new arrival settles in. And in the meantime, the care team is keeping a close eye on her. One of the funniest observations is that no matter how often the newcomer gets chased away, she always goes right back to following the other plovers around and peeping up a storm. Always trying to make a friend.
Aquarist Julia Baer decided to name this little nugget Parker after the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, which is a key breeding area for piping plovers in northeastern Massachusetts. There are now two piping plovers in the exhibit, but Parker is easily identifiable as the smaller of the two. Julia reports that Parker is curious about her new home and extremely vocal, peeping all day long.
Piping plovers are listed as threatened in Massachusetts under the Endangered Species Act. While this little bird would be unable to survive in the wild, she can live out her life comfortably at the New England Aquarium, where she can inspire visitors with her survival story and the great need to protect vulnerable species like the piping plover. Parker joins two terns, a semipalmated plover, and several sandpipers in this bright and airy exhibit in our Gulf of Maine gallery.