It takes so little to get me excited! Rebecca Carruth, a bio-tech with Gulf Islands National Seashore, was able to identify this bird as a Black-bellied plover. Yay! I've seen them for the past few years near the start of our turtle patrol season, but I was never able to get my camera out in time for a good photo. They are SO beautiful. Rebecca says they are also referred to sometimes as the "tuxedo bird" and you can see why.
Birds are difficult for me to identify because they seem to be constantly changing plumage. First there is the difference in males and females, then the juveniles and the adults, and finally a difference in plumage when birds are breeding and when they aren't! Think of it as their dating season and they get all gussied up. To give you a good example of how difficult identification can be for an amateur, take a look at this site Black-bellied Plover which shows what they look like in NON-breeding season.
Thanks for helping me out on this, Rebecca!