Piping Plover chick successfully treated for life-threatening injury at Toledo Zoo

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – The Little Ringed Plover is an endangered bird in the Great Lakes region. For the first time in over 80 years there was a successful breeding pair in Ohio. Four chicks were hatched in Maumee Bay State Park on July 1.

The story of the Maumee Bay State Park Piping Plover has many twists and turns. And the newest chapter is no exception. Erie is the only one of the Piping Plover chicks left here.

A few weeks ago, some who were involved in monitoring and documenting the birds noticed that something was wrong with Erie.

“After a few days it was clear that the bird needed help,” said Kimberly Kaufman, director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and the so-called Plover Patrol.

Kaufman says a photo of a volunteer clearly showed a serious injury to Erie’s bum.

“It was the close-up of the injury that set the wheels in motion to get Erie for help. The bird had a cut where the excrement came out of its body. “

The Black Swamp Bird Observatory was called in to get the injured chick the help it needed.

“After much discussion of the potential impact, the decision was made to allow the very capable team at BSBO to capture Erie and bring it to the Toledo Zoo. The rescue went surprisingly well. When we knew Erie would be fine, we laughed and wondered if Erie thought this is how migration works. “

Vince Capozziello is the one who took the picture that brought Erie such much needed help. He says what started as an interest in being part of protecting an endangered species became personal.

“Over time I became more and more emotionally involved with the birds. They weren’t just birds, they were something more. I bonded to her. I also made many wonderful friends while volunteering with the Plover Patrol. “

Kaufman says Erie spent more than a week at the Toledo Zoo.

“No surgery was required. Only topical treatments every day and rehydrated. We brought Erie back to Maumee Bay State Park 11 days later. “

In the days since he returned to the park, Erie has grown significantly stronger. Parents Nellie and Nish emigrated south this summer separately. The chick named Kickapoo was unfortunately killed by another animal last month.

Kaufman says the other two chicks, Maumee and Ottawa, fled.

“When we were at the zoo with Erie, the other two emigrated. We are so happy to have brought the bird from the beach. If Erie had emigrated with the other two, the chick would not have survived. “

The goal is that Erie will soon go south as well. Vince and everyone else will miss the birds, but will also be delighted when they all end up where they’re supposed to be.

“Erie looks fantastic now. We just hope the bird will take off soon and fly south where it belongs. It’ll be hard to see them all gone, but it’s time. “

Kaufman says the end of this story is only possible thanks to a large group of people who came together for these little birds.

“It was an honor to be part of it. Every day is different. I have spent thirty years of my life doing this job. This was the most intense, but also the most rewarding and inspiring part of my career. It was so interesting. It was also wonderful to work with a dedicated group of people. I will always be grateful to this group of people and what they have given this historic family of tiny birds. “

In case you’re wondering, traveling south alone won’t be a problem for Erie. The hope is that Erie will leave the park by the end of the month.

A website has been created that tracks the history of Maumee Bay State Park Piping Plover.

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