From March to September each year, Michael Milicia scours the beaches of Massachusetts' North Shore. He's not casting fishing reels or hunting for gold; his goal is to document the threatened species that nest there—the most imperiled being the piping plover.
June and July bring about a bevy of down-covered chicks, like the one in Milicia's heart-warming photo. The hatchling's oversized legs strike an odd balance to its minute body. Eventually it'll grow into its limbs, but it never loses that beguiling strut, the scampering footwork that helps it race across the shoreline while it chases after sea worms.
While Milicia loves observing baby plovers and their parents, he thinks of himself as a photographer rather than a birder. Back in 2005 he gave up software engineering to become a full-time artist. Since then he's taken pictures of mostly birds, making an effort to gather knowledge about every new species he photographs.
This image was a Top 100 photo from the 2013 Audubon Magazine Photography Awards. To see all of the photos, click here.