Piping Plovers, Paintings, and Field Notes

"On the Cusp" ©2016 Rose Tanner oil on linen 16" x 20" SOLD

Why the Piping Plover Matters

Endangered birds are a gauge to our planet's health. By protecting the endangered, we reassess our actions and develop solutions for the species survival. It leads to growth, education, community and improves the environment, these are all great reasons to protect the endangered.

Visit these fantastic endangered birds at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, and if your lucky you may even see the chicks hatch. For more information, click here to learn about Nancy Island and the Piping Plovers.

“The Chicks are Hatching” ©2016 Rose Tanner, Oil on linen 11"x 14"  

 

Whenever I see a bird in the wild do something deliberately, like protect their young, the act is proof of intelligence and it and inspires me.

 

Once a chick hatches the Piping Plover will quickly carry the eggshells away from the nest, they don't want to draw attention, especially from the gulls and crows.

A New Endangered Life

 "New Endangered Life" ©2016 Rose Tanner Oil on Linen 16" x 20" 

I watched in awe as eggs from two nests hatched right before my eyes. The interaction between the parents, newborn chicks and other male Piping Plovers was fascinating. 


The mother helped break the last chick out of the egg by squeezing it between her body. I saw one chick running around while the others were drying off. 

There was a territory dispute when an aggressive male confronted the pair near the nest, but it ended with a standoff, and the aggressor retreated. Soon the chicks were all up and running unaware of the hungry seagulls flying above or the hundreds of people being kept out of the nesting area a few metres away. 

​"First Day" © 2016 Rose Tanner 16" x 20" Oil on Linen  SOLD

 

Did you know Piping Plovers are precocial which means the young are relatively mature and mobile at the time of the hatching? This painting is called "First Day" because it was their first day of life. I tried to show the vulnerability of the chicks in this painting.

Territory Dispute

"Territory Dispute" ©2016 Rose Tanner Oil on linen 20" x 10"

Territory disputes among Piping Plovers are fascinating to watch. They can be quite aggressive charging at each other, puffing their plumage to look larger and the occasional pecking. On the right in this painting, the pair you see were defending their territory around their newborn chicks. They did an excellent job to stand ground and keep the aggressor away from the nest. Often in nature, it's all about the show. 

It's as much about the volunteers

When I decided to do a series of paintings on an endangered species, I quickly fell in love with the Piping Plover.  After researching the Piping Plover, I began conversations with organizations that had stewardship programs in Canada. To my delight, I found myself in Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, the longest freshwater beach in the world, doing field studies and volunteering as a Plover Guardian.
 
Wasaga Beach is one of the busiest weekend beaches near Toronto. People, garbage, gulls, crows and dogs all propose a threat to the Piping Plover and their chicks during the breeding season. With only around 8000 Piping Plovers left in the world, I was honoured to help out and record the hatching from two of the five protected nests.  But the real reward came from getting to know the dedicated volunteers who contribute to this species' survival. These people are making a difference and, the Plovers are coming back. Fourteen Piping Plover chicks from the five nests survived this season and have migrated to the wintering grounds.  These are paintings and observations from my time in the field. I donated my paintings and prints to help with the ongoing effort. 

"The Plover Guardian"©2016 Rose Tanner Oil on Linen 10 x 20 SOLD

Wastage Beach, in Ontario, is situated along the longest freshwater beach in the world. The fourteen kilometres of the freshwater beach is indeed special, and it is also one of the busiest beaches in the area. 

The habitat where the first nest was laid on the beach nine years ago became protected, allowing the natural vegetation to grow. When the beach is quiet in early spring, the plovers find their nesting territory on Wasaga Beach and begin a courtship.

The Piping Plover Guardian volunteers record field data about the plovers, educate the public and keep the people/dogs away from the nesting area. The challenge is to make people aware of the "Closed Area" signage, but towards the evening, the Guardian's job becomes more difficult. Park Rangers are needed to help keep people out of the Closed Fenced Area.

The Piping Plover is protected under the Canadian federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). The Plover nests in several national parks and historic sites where it is also protected by the Canada National Parks Act.

In addition, it is protected by the Federal Migratory Birds Convention Act. Under this Act, it is prohibited to kill, harm, or collect adults, young, and eggs.

The Piping Plover is also protected under the Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Manitoba, Ontario, Labrador, and Nova Scotia Endangered Species Acts and the Quebec Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species.  

The Piping Plover is also protected in the United States.   Find out more from the US Fish & Wildlife Service

©2017 BY ROSE TANNER FINE ART