@offshorebirder As the plover flies how far is it from Long Island to Charleston?
With the exception of no hood on a Piping Plover the resemblance between them & a Hooded Plover is striking.
Although I'm not keen on banding/flagging birds the scientific data that is provides is fantastic. I always love it when one of the birds I monitor during the breeding season is reported at a distant location. It adds another piece to the puzzle of how these creatures go about their lives.
@Geoff - thanks for your interest in Piping Plovers - one of my favorite birds and one I do a lot of volunteer work to support.
It is about an 800 mile (1,300 kilometer) flight down the coast from Long Island to Kiawah Island. From what we know about eastern (Atlantic) Piping Plovers, they migrate in stages down the coast- stopping periodically to feed and fatten up for a few days or weeks during transit.
Coastal South Carolina also has wintering Piping Plovers from the highly endangered Great Lakes population, as well as the northern Great Plains birds that breed on alkali lakeshores and sand/gravel flats in large rivers in the northern Great Plains. The inland Piping Plovers are thought to make longer migration flight segments, as suitable stopover habitat between the breeding and wintering grounds is less common. And because Piping Plovers are much less frequently sighted by birders between the breeding and wintering grounds.
I too am squeamish about bird banding - kind of a surprising thing for someone who co-founded a bird observatory. I know it's a valid conservation tool and we learn a lot about bird populations, longevity, migration routes, vital stopover sites, etc. etc. But I have a hard time witnessing birds being captured and processed. I know there is a certain amount of injury or mortality from the banding process and it bothers me. I used to help as a data scribe and "tricky bird identifier" for bird banding stations but do not do it much any more, except for a few targeted conservation projects.
Bird banders have learned a lot in the past decade about best practices for banding shorebirds. They used to put the aluminum bands/rings around shorebirds' ankles. But corrosion from saltwater can render the aluminum bands pitted or jagged. Some of those Piping Plovers and other shorebirds have been documented with serious foot/ankle injuries up to and including loss of a foot. Now they are putting aluminum USGS bands above the knee joint only and using multiple color-coded bands is discouraged in favor of a single plastic flag with numeric/alpha codes for individual identification.
But some good conservation results have come about due to tracking individual birds. Not all the breeding populations of Piping Plovers are Federally classified as "Endangered" but when individuals from say the Great Lakes population are noted in an area, that means more stringent restrictions on: development, beach re-nourishment (dredging and pumping sand from offshore onto beaches to forestall erosion), off-leash dogs or the presence of dogs at all, closing the beach to off-road vehicles (where the barbaric practice is still allowed such as the North Carolina Outer Banks), etc.