Follow a Young Plover as It Heads South for the Winter

Left behind by their parents, juvenile Black-bellied Plovers must rely on instincts to find their way.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.


This is BirdNote!

This young Black-bellied Plover is about to make its first migratory flight. It was one of four siblings hatched from a nest in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in mid-July, and it’s been able to fly since mid-August. Now in early September, the young plover leaps into the air to begin the long journey south.

Like most juvenile shorebirds, our migrant was abandoned by parents that began their southbound flights a few weeks earlier. Imagine making a journey of more than a thousand miles with no experienced guides and only the instincts nature provides you. But shorebirds are social birds, so it joins other young Black-bellied Plovers as they make their way south.

This little flock of birds could arrive on the coast of Washington within a few days if they make a direct flight, or within a week or more if they stop at a productive wetland along the way. Some will stay for the winter, but others will continue their continent-spanning journey, arriving in coastal Venezuela at the end of December. 

Check out our website for photos and more. That’s BirdNote.org. I’m Michael Stein.



Support for Birdnote comes from Audubon Park Wild Bird Food, owned by a bird-loving family for 60 years. Information on why bird feeding runs in families at Audubonpark.com.

Call of the Black-bellied Plover provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by R.C. Stein and R.S. Little.

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

Narrator: Michael Stein

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