And JJL Too! But mostly Giantsbane…

It wasn’t long after posting But Mostly Giantsbane when the editorial comments began trickling in. I appreciate editorial feedback as it helps answer the burning question, “Who in the world is reading this anyway?” while simultaneously raising the question, “What do people think this is, The Atlantic?”

First up was Todd Pover himself, who felt the need to clearly state that it wasn’t he who found Kookie’s nest at Holgate, but his crew leader Amy. While I winced that Todd was ruining my story with facts (it is so much funnier if Todd finds the egg and spoils his own Plover Park’s victory,) I quickly corrected it for two reasons. First, I know that Todd profoundly appreciates and respects his crew at Holgate. And second, Todd is one of the best nest finders on the planet. He has been finding all-the-things for years. We need to find ways to remove points from him, not falsely attribute others’ finds to him.

Next up was Kashi Davis, who co-runs the beach nesting program at New Jersey Fish & Wildlife. She pointed out that Kookie is a she, not a he. Simple typo. No biggie.

I quickly and quietly made these edits before anyone else noticed everything they didn’t fact-check or correct in the post (and therefore, stand as affirmed and true). These include, but are not limited to:

  • Being assigned as a monitor to Barnegat Light State Park is “the highest honor in all of New Jersey Fish & Wildlife.”
  • Barnegat Light is “the most important habitat on the coast.”
  • Giantsbane & JJL’s egg was “the first in the whole world.”
  • Calling it “A Three-way Tie, But Mostly Giantsbane” is a fair and reasonable position.

Needless to say, I was chuffed that I had only a few minor factual corrections while my boldest proclamations remained unchecked. Victory.

But then came the big one, and it looked like this:

“Here, iz fixed it for you”

Uh oh. Did Northside Jim just do a misogyny? Did I just prove that I am, in fact, “down with the patriarchy” by attributing the nest to the male, Giantsbane, in the title while ignoring Jennifer Jason Leigh (JJL)? Is The Readings about to be canceled for good?

No, and here’s why.

Having recorded the lives of LBI’s celebrity birds for over a decade, there is now enough detail to fill multiple full-length Lifetime Original Movies (TM) about each one. So whether we are typing up a nest note in NestStory, or writing a blog post, we need some severe shorthand, or we will never stop typing something that no one will ever get through. Referring to the pair by a single mate is a common, helpful shorthand. Just as giving them nicknames instead of constantly typing out their band codes is.

But even so, how do we choose which mate gets the honor of being the reference bird for the nest? 

As I’ve pointed out before when addressing this topic, if we were discussing a Peregrine Falcon nest, you’d have the exact opposite issue with me. It would be all “Jo Durt this” and “Bey that,” with almost no mention of the male falcon. 

It is all about roles.

For better or worse, Piping Plover males are the more consistent role in the nesting cycle. The male arrives at the habitat first, selects the habitat, defends the habitat, and then attracts the female to the habitat. If the female doesn’t like it and flies away, the male remains and tries again. This is often true even in the case of nest loss.

The entire courtship ritual revolves around the male choosing locations and then going through elaborate rituals to get the female to consent.

But the most crucial fact regarding this topic is that males tend to stay the longest. Some females will fly back to the Bahamas within days of hatching the chicks, leaving Dad to finish out the season and raise the chickies alone. Poor little dude!

Piping Plovers are basically a Dad-centric species regarding the complete nesting season. It is logical and practical to choose the male because, 9 times out of 10, he is the first adult you will see and report on, and also the last in any nesting season. It just makes more sense.

With Peregrines, it is the exact opposite in many regards. Mom is physically bigger and stronger. Females kill each other for nesting sites. The males have essential roles, but the females call the shots, and the males are basically along for the ride for much of it. If we lose Dad, another will come along easily to take his place. If we lose Mom, we are all waiting with bated breath for another to “take over.” So my shorthand choice there is always the female. It’s as simple as that.

I love JJL. I named JJL. And truth be told, I watched her for almost 45 minutes last night as she quivered and squinted in the nest bowl, laying that egg, patiently waiting for her to finish so she and Giantsbane could put BALI on the board. My respect couldn’t run deeper.

And since I just completely spoiled my bid for a 3-way tie with the above confession that JJL didn’t lay her egg until last evening, I’ll share something else.

The real reason I downplayed JJL was that I wanted to bury the lede. Luckily no one noticed the real story: that Jennifer Jason Leigh shouldn’t be laying eggs with Giantsbane. Because she is Octavius Rex’s mate.  

But that’s a story for another time. Apparently, I’ve got some more, red-hot, burning edits rolling in.


  1. If you are trying to get canceled by calling yourself out, forget it. You will always be forgiven and made to continue providing us with the stories, photos, videos we love and for which we will always tune in! So, good try, didn’t work!


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