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How to Help Western Snowy Plovers

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It's between March 15 and September 15.  You're at the Oregon coast and you're strolling along one of our beautiful beaches.  You stumble across what you think might be a nesting western snowy plover.  Lucky you, you've spotted the nest of a threatened little shorebird that's very difficult to see. What do you do?

  • Is it a Plover Nest?

    Western snowy plover nest with eggs (R. Baak/USFWS)

    Western snowy plovers nest along our coastline, typically in flat, open areas with sandy or saline substrate. Vegetation and driftwood is usually sparse or absent near nests.

    Their camoflauged nests, or scrapes, are made in small depressions of the sand, and are constructed using pebbles, shell fragments, fish bones, mud chips, vegetation fragments, or invertebrate skeletons.

    The typical clutch size is three eggs but nests can have between two and, in rare cases, up to six eggs.

    Upclose view HERE.

  • Are you in a Designated Management Area?

    sign about restricted beach use in plover area (credit: OPRD)

    Most nests nests occur in locations managed specifically for nesting plovers, known as "Designated Management Areas."

    These nests are flagged off to alert visitors to their location so we can all help protect them by following seasonal beach restrictions during the March 15 - September 15 nesting season.

    If you find an unmarked nest outside a Designated Management Area in Oregon, please report it to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) immediately (see below).  

    Click HERE for a map of Designated Mangement Areas.

  • How to Report Nests

    plover nest with chick (credit: usfws)

    Please keep a respectful distance from the nest, but note its location.  Photos of the area surrounding the nest are helpful in pinpointing its location.

    Report nests to Laurel Hillmann at OPRD (503-986-0700).  For more guidance on reporting nests, we refer you to OPRD's website.

  • Please Continue to Share the Beach

    Western snowy plover nest with eggs (R. Baak/USFWS)

    To ensure the eggs and future chicks have the best possible chance of survival, beach visitors can help by following a few simple guidelines: 

    • Respect all areas posted or roped-off for the protection of wildlife.

    • When walking on the beach, stay on the wet hard-packed sand. Do not approach birds or nests.

    • Follow all rules for responsible camping and campfires.

    • Dogs are welcome at most Oregon beaches.  If dogs are permitted, don't allow your dog to play in the dry sand areas where birds are more prone to nest. Never allow your dog to chase birds.

    • Do not leave or bury trash or food scraps on the beach. Garbage attracts predators.

    • Please do not feed wildlife.

    • If you are on a beach that allows vehicles, drive slowly, staying on the hard-packed sand below or near the high tide line.

    • Avoid flying kites or other hovering objects near plover-nesting habitat; plovers can mistake these objects for predators, and may leave their nests.

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