The Laguna Madre mudflats are a fantastic area for shorebirds. Everything from dowitchers to curlews and plovers shows up so a trip to this hotspot during Fall migration always comes with exciting possibilities.
On trips to the Laguna Madre mudflats behind the South Padre Island Convention Centre in late September and October 6th, I was able to get photos of two different, banded Piping Plovers.
The first one had a metal band and a white band on the left leg and an orange band on the right leg.
The banded bird from October 6th had a yellow band on the left leg and green and orange bands on the right leg.
Naturally, I wondered where these birds came from. Were they banded at the Laguna Madre? Did they come from breeding populations in the Great Plains or from somewhere along the Mississippi River? Although this threatened species also breeds on the Atlantic Coast, it seemed like those birds would probably winter in Florida or in the Caribbean.
As it turns out, after communicating with a few people who work with Piping Plovers, it looks like the bird with the green flag was banded by researchers from Virginia Tech. They work with the birds at breeding sites on the Missouri River and at wintering sites on the Texas Coast so they could have banded it in either spot
I am not sure where the other bird was banded but according to this information, it sounds like it may have come from populations in the Great Lakes. Hopefully, I will run into more Piping Plovers with bands on my next trip to Laguna Madre!