Alice van Zoeren, who handles reports of banded plovers up at the University of Minnesota, sent us the full scoop on the bird spotted by Georgia Graves on St. Simons Island in Georgia: the bird hatched in 2010, and nested along Lake Michigan this past summer when it was captured and tagged with the elaborate color band pattern that allows each bird to be individually identified via photo. The system is well explained and illustrated at the UMN plover research site, and you can also learn more about what they’re up to with both their plover work and their studies of other waterbirds.
The UMN folks have determined that the Great Lakes Piping Plovers overwinter from North Carolina south to Texas, so now is the time for our southern Seanetters to be on the lookout for tagged and flagged birds. The plovers are also banded by other agencies and programs, like the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Bird Studies Canada, so take careful note of the bands you see, get a good photo whenever possible, and start the detective work of figuring out where your bird came from. Of course, we want to hear about your sightings too, so pass them along. And as the folks at UMN say, happy plovering!