This monochrome shorebird, clothed in striking black and white plumage, combines haute couture and foraging in the low tide on Turtle Beach.
A bold checkerboard graphic splashed across its wings and a stylish white cap cascading from brow to shoulder complete the plover’s breeding plumage ensemble.
During the rest of the year, the plover’s understated non-breeding attire subtly blends into the beach with dull, earthy gray tones.
The black-bellied plover’s stocky build and hardy constitution enable it to migrate thousands of miles to summer breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra. In the fall, it migrates across North America back to Siesta Key like so many other snow birds.
The plover would make a formidable opponent in the imaginary iron-bird triathlon consisting of running, swimming, and flying. This feathered triathlete runs tirelessly (never walking) while hunting for food, is a capable swimmer in open water, and owns the title of the fastest flying shorebird— approaching speeds of 60 mph.
Not bad for a stylish bird weighing 5 to 7 ounces and measuring 10 to 12 inches from tip to tail!
(Jan Baumgartner’s handmade notecards are available at BLVD Beachwear, 5239 Ocean Blvd., and Shelly’s Gift and Christmas Boutique, 4420 S. Tamiami Tr.)