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Western Snowy Plover

Charadrius nivosus nivosus
The western snowy plover is a small shorebird distinguished from other plovers by its small size, pale brown upper parts, dark patches on either side of the upper breast, and dark gray to blackish legs. During the breeding season (March through September), plovers can be seen nesting along the shores, peninsulas, offshore islands, bays, estuaries, and rivers of the United States' Pacific Coast. Plover nests usually contain three tiny eggs, which look like sand and are barely visible to even the most well-trained eye. Plover nests are simple depressions in the sand and may be next to kelp, shells, driftwood and rocks.
Snowy plovers have natural predators such as falcons, raccoons, coyotes, and owls. There are also predators that humans have introduced or whose populations they have helped to increase, including crows, ravens, red fox and domestic dogs. Humans can be thought of as predators too. People drive vehicles, ride bikes, fly kites and bring their dogs to beaches where the Western Snowy Plover lives and breeds. All of these activities can frighten or harm plovers during their breeding season.
Energy is very important to this small bird. Every time humans, dogs, or other predators, cause the birds to take flight or run away, they lose precious energy. Often, when a plover parent is disturbed, it will abandon its nest, which increases the chance of a predator finding the eggs, sand blowing over and covering the nest, or the eggs getting cold. This can decrease the number of chicks that hatch in a particular year. The Western snowy plover has been living on the Pacific Coast for thousands of years, but was listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened in 1993 due to low population and decreased habitat. Read more about refuge efforts to help the western snowy plover.

Facts About Western Snowy Plover

Chicks are the size of cotton ball

Males are left to raise the young, while the female lays eggs in a new nest

Listed as Threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act

 

Last Updated: Apr 26, 2013
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