Snowy Plover Hatching

Snowy Plover Hatching

May 31, 2020

May 28th, 2020 - Southwest Florida

On May 27th there were 3 Snowy Plover Eggs were present in the nest. On the morning of May 28th, only 1 egg was to found in the nest. 2 Snowy Plovers hatched overnight or earlier in the morning on May 28th prior to our arrival at the nest. 

7:07am - Walking to 1st photo spot

I photographed a Wilson’s Plover carrying part of an eggshell while enroute to my first photo spot. (I did not see the eggshell until after I got home to review my photos) The eggshell looks to me like it was a Snowy Plover eggshell piece from and egg that had recently hatched. It may have been an eggshell from one of the 2 Snowy Plovers that hatched overnight. 

Wilsons Plover with Snowy Plover eggshell

7:17am - Least Tern nesting area

Least Terns were feeding and watching their babies

Least Tern Feeding

Other Least Terns were sitting on eggs

Least Tern Chick on mom

7:37am - Black Skimmer Colony

A colony of Black Skimmers was also present. Many of the skimmers were preening on the ground, with some flying and running around with fish.

8:13am - Snowy Plover Nest

We moved on to the Snowy Plover nest where a single egg was located... We approached low and slow as to not disturb nearby wildlife.

Snowy Plover on Nest

8:18am - The snowy plover mother joins the father 30-40 feet away for a quick break from the nest, watching the two hatched babies. 

Snowy Plover family

Luckily the egg blends in with the sand and the nest was well located.

Snowy Plover Egg

8:34am - Mom starts acting odd and making calls while on the nest. She appeared to twitch a few times and I thought maybe she was warming up the egg.

8:39am - Mom leaves the nest again to watch over the two babies with Dad.

8:42am - The Egg starts to Hatch

A small hole started on the backside of the egg at first... then more cracks started to show on top of the egg

Snowy Plover Egg 1

8:48am - The baby has made a major crack towards the middle of the egg.

8:54am - The baby finally pushes through and breaks the egg open, falling forward.

9:02am - Mom comes back to the nest to see that her baby has hatched. 

 She begins to sit on the nest with her newborn chick.

9:20am Mom starts removing egg shell pieces and takes them away from the nest.

 9:23am - The newborn Snowy Plover takes its first steps

9:42am - Mom walks off and calls to the baby, trying to get it to come to her. The newborn looks at Mom.

Newborn looking at Mama

9:46am - The newborn baby attempts to walk towards mom but falls and can’t make it yet. She tries a few times to motivate the baby to walk towards her with no luck. 

9:48am - The newest hatchling and one of its older siblings both seek shelter under Mom.

9:54am - Mom leaves again to try and get the newborn to walk towards her. The baby makes some progress, and makes it a couple feet to the next patch of grass before taking a rest. 

9:55am - Mom is back, and leaves again. No progress

10:00am - Baby takes shelter under Mom again.

2nd rest

10:08am - Baby follows mom to a small patch of grass much farther away. Mom covers baby again for a minute before walking off again.

10:09am - Baby moves to a larger patch of grass a foot or two away from where it was.

10:12am - Mom comforts baby again.

10:14am - Mom leaves again. The newborn baby starts walking towards Mom and makes it over a long distance.

10:17am - The newborn meets its two siblings and Dad for the first time. 

10:24am - The newborn Snowy Plover is walking faster, and much longer distances.

Final Notes:

What an incredible day out on the beach with friends and memories that will not be forgotten. Watching a Snowy Plover from Egg, to hatching, to the first steps, and running around within 90 minutes of being born was quite an amazing experience.  I am currently working on a video compilation including the Snowy Plover hatching, its first steps, and more.

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