Collect All 6, Maybe 8:Tormund Giantsbane

Tormund Giantsbane

And now we get to the higher value cards. Some cards are valuable because they are rare, some because they are quirky, and some because… well… because they are the King or the Ace of the deck. And that’s Giantsbane.

I doubt anyone saw it coming back when Giantsbane suddenly dropped out of the sky and onto the front beach of Barnegat Light in the middle of the 2019 season with mate Bree Bree. If nothing else, most folks were too traumatized, confused, and shocked at the time to consider anything but the burning present and the immediate future.

Back in those days, the undisputed King and Queen of Barnegat Light were Captain Jack and Myrtle. Just a few days before Giantsbane appeared out of nowhere and immediately dropped an egg (so improbable), Jack and Myrtle had mysteriously vanished. (I highly recommend reading this past Reading called The Estimate about this event. It is still really fascinating to me and a great look at all of the assumptions we make about wild animals in our spheres of observation. If you’ve ever had a neighborhood squirrel, or fox, or anything which you logically and easily assumed was the same individual, The Estimate will make you think twice!)

The great Jesse Amesbury discovering Giantsbane and Bree Bree’s first, improbable nest on the front beach, and using NestStory on his phone to quickly record the GPS location.

Having started so late in the season, and having laid their precious clutch of eggs right in the middle of a busy summer beach, hopes were not high for their success. And they quickly lost that first nest. But Bree Bree and Bane were a hard-working, no-nonsense pair, and successfully re-nested and hatched the My Little Pony brood: Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie.

Then they did one of the most surprising and unexpected things which piping plover are known by some to occasionally do: despite the fact that their tiny chicks were only two days old and about an inch tall, they rigorously marched them over a mile and half through the raging summer crowds and predator infested dunes to the promised land: Todd Pover’s Plover Park. Giantsbane and Bree Bree became the second pair to ever to use the new habitat restoration of Barnegat Light State Park. It was an enormous gamble which has paid off handsomely.

Luckily for them, the Park’s first pair, Pete “Kick-em-to-the-curb” McLain and Jennifer Jason Leigh, had already fledged their K-Pop brood of RM, J-Hope, and Suga so there was little competition and they fledged all of the ponies without incident.

Todd Pover, creator of Todd Pover’s Plover Park, dressed as a My Little Pony to celebrate Giantsbane’s first brood.

It wasn’t really until the spring of 2020, when Giantsbane returned to Todd Pover’s Plover Park, when everyone realized who he was destined to be. Having spied the glory of Todd Pover’s Plover Park in 2019, and with Pete McLain having failed to return, Giantsbane immediately set out to fill Pete’s shoes by kicking the lovely Bree Bree to the curb and taking instead Pete’s old mate Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Giantsbane also took Pete’s old habitat, the Predator Pond, and there he and JJL hatched the second K-Pop Brood: Jimin, Kookie, and World Wide Handsome. Unfortunately, that dark shadow of Todd Pover’s Plover Park grew even darker once again. Shortly after losing his favorite chick, World Wide Handsome, Giantsbane again made a bold move by marching his chicks across the Park, taking over Stacy & Tatiana’s turf, and stealing three of their chicks and then raising them as his own. It was a mega-brood and was unprecedented chaos.

But it was a success. +5 for Giantsbane.

Giantsbane now follows in the footsteps of the great kings of Barnegat Light: Tufters, Captain Jack, and Pete McLain. His heart is clearly filled with ambition. So you can you guess who Giantsbane has chosen as a mate for the 2021 season?

Stay tuned for final trading card, or maybe the third to final trading card. Because there is never a dull moment in Todd Pover’s Plover Park. That’s for sure!

If you love the King, The Ace, the leader, and the top dog of the situation, then Tormund Giantsbane might just be your bias.

Fun Fact #1:

There are no fun facts about Giantsbane. He is all business, and he truly understands what it takes to win the Game of Todd Pover’s Plover Park.

Fun Fact #2:

“Giantsbane” is also misspelled on his trading card. I’ve always casually wondered as I type these things, “Is it Giant’s Bane” or “Giants’ Bane”? I even have used the shorthand “Bane” to avoid thinking about it. (In NestStory, we call him “GB”)

Tonight I finally looked it up: thank goodness, it’s “Giantsbane.” So much easier. He was named by Emily Heiser after the Game of Thrones character. I wasn’t totally on board, but I am pleased, because he has turned out to be legend and is now Emily’s favorite plover in New Jersey. Which basically assures she’ll band his chicks!


  1. Love this and “The Estimate”, wow!
    Go Giantsbane!!
    I sure hope we band this year…
    It is so much fun being in on the drama when we know who is who.


    1. Indeed. I keep thinking how we are kind of at “peak bands” now the Dr. Stantial’s project is complete. It is a real treat that all the birds in Plover Park (AMOY included) are all banded, known birds.


  2. Lol that GB has no fun facts 😂 A true alpha, love him dearly. And you know he is a good dude if he can out up w Myrtle’s antics! Here is a fun fact about his progeny- Pinkie Pie (a male) now nests in North Carolina, one of only three known NJ-hatched birds to settle down that far from his natal site. We routinely lose birds to NY and DE but NC is a far one! Love that brood.


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