The short story is that after being gone for a day and a half #TheFourWeAllAdore returned to Maumee Bay State Park. We'd predicted that that might happen, wondering if the chicks would move between nearby Cedar Point NWR and Maumee Bay SP. We waited to post anything because we weren't sure how long they'd stay.
The longer story is far more complex.
There are no gentle transitions for a #GreatLakesPipingPlover monitor.
It's more like a series of emotional explosions.
- OMG, WE HAVE A NEST!!
- OMG, WE HAVE AN EGG!!
- OMG, THE EGGS ARE HATCHING!!
- OMG, THE CHICKS HAVE LEFT THE PROTECTED AREA!!
- OMG, THERE'S AN OFF-LEASH DOG!!
- OMG, THE CHICKS ARE FLYING!!
- OMG, THERE'S A DRONE!!
It's totally worth the emotional rollercoaster ride to experience the joy of being part of this extraordinary project.
But, today we are faced with the sharpness of a reality that has lurked in the shadows of that joy.
Yesterday morning, our volunteers were unable to find Kickapoo. After extensive searching, some twist of fate led them to search an area of Cove 4 one last time. It was there that they found signs of predation. We confirmed that the remains were of a Piping Plover. The few signs they found indicate that the predator was a mink, but we can’t say for sure.
We agonized over how to break this news, even considered not sharing it at all. But in the end, we felt that the truth was best, and important to the integrity of the project.
Please, try not to think of this as a failure. We did absolutely all that we could to give the birds their best chance for survival. This is the sharp reality that nature is not always beautiful. Nature often seems raw and cruel, and far too intense for mere humans to understand, especially under these circumstances. But I, for one, find it “easier” to accept that this was an act of nature rather than losing one of our beloved birds to some evil act of humans.
We will carry the pain of this loss together, sharing in the sadness just as we did the joy, easing the hurt by suffering it as a community, being there for each other as we struggle to come to terms with it. And we will use this information and what we’ve learned to help inform the Great Lakes Piping Plover project so that the loss is not in vain.
My heart goes out to all of the volunteers and to all of you who faithfully follow this story. I know you love these birds, too.
Now we'll try to focus on the three remaining chicks that we need to monitor, with hope beyond hope that they’ll begin their journey safely – and soon.
Thank you for being part of this journey.
Black Swamp Bird Observatory