Discover What It
Audubon and ESRI offer an intimate look at what it’s like to be a piping plover with their interactive map story, Beating the Odds: A Year in the Life of a Piping Plover.
Piping plovers have the right idea: This time of year, they’re on sandy southern beaches.
About half of the 8,000 or so piping plovers take up winter residence on beaches and mudflats of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts, where they dine on worms, tiny crustaceans, and other marine animals. The whereabouts of the other half of the population has long been unknown—but now, scientists are starting to solve the mystery. In 2011, an international team of shorebird biologists, including Audubon scientists, discovered more than 1,000 plovers wintering in the Bahamas. (Read about the bird detectives’ adventures in "Solving the Piping Plover Puzzle.")
To reach their topical destinations, the six-inch birds face a 2,000-mile odyssey, fighting storms like Hurricane Sandy in the air and perils on the ground, from predators to development to off-road vehicles.
But don’t take my word for it—see for yourself. Audubon, in partnership with ESRI, offers an up-close, interactive look a year in the life of an Atlantic Coast plover, and shows why it’s critical to protect habitat throughout the Atlantic Flyway. Click here to start the journey.