Notifications

Endangered piping plover bullied out of nest by tern

Officials at P.E.I. National Park are concerned about the eggs in a piping plover nest after a tern took over the nest of one of the endangered birds.

Bigger bird laid its own eggs next to piping plover eggs

A tern egg side by side with piping plover eggs after the tern took over the nest. (Parks Canada)

Officials at P.E.I. National Park are concerned about the eggs in a piping plover nest after a tern took over the nest of one of the endangered birds.

Piping plovers are closely watched on the Island. The June count this year found just 57 birds. Every known nest is guarded and many are caged to keep predators out.

Kim Riehl, the resource management officer with Parks Canada, discovered the problem a few weeks ago. (CBC)

Plovers had laid four eggs in a nest at the Greenwich site of the Prince Edward Island National Park, when the larger bird decided it liked the spot, and pushed the parenting plovers away.

Park officials say they have never seen a case like this before.Kim Riehl with Parks Canada discovered the problem a few weeks ago.

"I found the nest with four plover eggs and one common tern egg, so what had been happening is a tern had been incubating the plover nest and had laid an egg of its own," she said.

She got the tern out, placed the tern egg in the sand nearby.

Cage for plover nest

The plover reclaimed the nest but when Riehl came back a couple of days later to check on the situation, the tern had again evicted the piping plover and had taken over the nest and laid another egg.

The tern began incubating all the eggs after laying its own. (Parks Canada)

"The piping plover as soon as the tern would back was circling the nest, looked very defensive and stressed," said Riehl.

It took several attempts for Parks Canada officials to chase the tern off the nest. Once the tern left, parks officials put a cage or exclosure around the nest. The exclosures keep out predators but not the piping plovers.

Officials removed the tern eggs and put them in another location.

The plovers returned, and officials are hoping the tern's incubation of the eggs was successful, and the plover chicks will hatch out.

"We're hoping it's a one time thing and just a confused tern, but hard to say," said Riehl.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.