The Ludington State Park beach house has a new bird exhibit.

The little plovers fit right in among the displays about wolves and carp — all animals that DNR Interpreter Alan Wernette tells visitors about when they pass through.

The display case with carved wood birds, painted to look real, sits on the right side of the beach house facing the lake. Inside are the “Shoreline Birds” that can be found along the Ludington beach during the migration seasons: solitary sandpiper, spotted sandpiper, marbled godwit and the piping plover.

”The plovers are on the one end and the other types are opposite. They have tags that talk a little about them,” Wernette said.

Up until a few years ago, there was a pair of nesting plovers at the state park not far from the beach house. Recently, Lake Michigan’s high water level has forced them to nest further north, Wernette said.

When the water level goes down, he expects the plovers will return.”They’ve moved north where there is more remote beach,” he said.The display was Elizabeth Brockwell-Tillman’s idea, Wernette said.Tillman is an interpreter at the P.J. Hoffmaster State Park and the daughter of Robert “Bob” Brockwell, an avid birder and member of the Sable Dunes Audubon Society who passed away. TheBrockwell Memorial Fund supports projects like the bird exhibit.

“When he passed away a few years ago, a memorial fund was set up in his name,” Wernette said. “I talked to (Elizabeth) many times about other exhibits and she said, ‘my dad would love to see an exhibit at Ludington State Park.’ We threw out a couple ideas and came up with the idea for the shoreline birds. Since the Lake Michigan beach house is on the shoreline and the piping plovers go through the area, she said that would be a neat thing to have.”{/span}

Tillman and Wernette came up with the exhibit design, which was installed on June 22.

“We had some fun with it,” he said.

Each summer, the park has a federally-funded “plover person,” whose job it is to walk the beach and use a spotting scope to look for piping plovers.

“A lot of the people who come to visit the area in the spring and fall are birders because of the migrations. The shoreline of the Great Lakes, especially Lake Michigan, is a road, like a highway for birds — from the little plover to the sandhill cranes and the geese. They like to fly along the shoreline,” he said. “The plovers start migrating in August. I tell people when the plovers start to migrate, that’s a sign that winter isn’t far behind.”

{span}Not all the shore birds are on display yet. Wernette hopes to add gulls in the future.{/span}

{span}”I have a goal to put another display that (has information) about the different gulls — there’s a ring-billed gull and the herring gull,” he said. “Someday in the next year or two we will have a display made. When people are at the beach and these gulls are squawking at them... they will be able to spot the ring-billed gull because of its beak.”{/span}

{span}The shoreline birds exhibit was supposed to be installed in the spring but was delayed because of COVID-19, Wernette said.{/span}

{span}The purpose of exhibits like these are to educate people about the wildlife around them while they are enjoying the natural resources.{/span}

{span}”People come to the state park to enjoy the beach and the lake. By having displays that talk about the natural resources, these fit in perfectly,” Wernette said. “The piping plovers and other birds are the ones people see when they stay at the park. Why not let people know a little bit more about these birds?”{/span}

{span}He also said it helps people understand why they need to tread carefully and obey the park rules.{/span}

{span}”We tell people dogs need to be on a leash and on the dog beach and nowhere else. Some dogs might want to chase that little bird around and that’s not good,” he said. “Hopefully people will stop and learn more about these birds and realize why the dogs can’t run free and why motorized vehicles aren’t allowed on the beach.”{/span}

{span}For Wernette, it’s about protecting the resources and educating people about the values of those resources so they can “coexist.”{/span}

{span}The exhibit is not complete. Wernette wants to add panels attached to the displays that will give more information about the birds species like the other displays in the room.{/span}

{span}”Those won’t be up until next spring,” he said.{/span}