Excerpts from Jim Conrad's


from the June 12, 2011 Newsletter issued from written at Mayan Beach Garden Inn 20 kms north of Mahahual, Quintana Roo, México

At the southern rocky point I was trying to photograph a black, very ornamented crab in a tide pool when suddenly a loud, piercing PIK! erupted from nearby. The visitor stood about fifteen feet away, as shown above.

With those long legs and a short beak slightly bulging at the end, he was clearly one of the six or seven plover species found here. But I thought that plovers were migrants and should have been gone by now. Also, the plover most frequently seen here is the Semipalmated, our nice picture of which appears at http://www.backyardnature.net/yucatan/semipalm.htm.

But notice that those Semipalmateds beaks are much shorter and smaller than our PIK!er's. This was a different species.

PIK!er was a Wilson's Plover, CHARADRIUS WILSONIA, a denizen of sandy beaches and mudflats approximately from coastal New Jersey south to Brazil and Peru.

So, shouldn't this bird have migrated northward by now? It turns out that Wilson's Plovers are permanent residents here. Northern populations are migratory, and part of Mexico's are, too. Along the southern Pacific and the southern Gulf of Mexico, except for northern Yucatán, Wilson's Plovers are only winter visitors. Also they're only winter visitors along the coasts of Belize, Honduras and Guatemala.

Who knows what quirk of evolutionary history accounts for such a curious nesting and overwintering pattern for the Wilson's Plover?