Plovers in Peril
The small Western snowy plover can fit in the palm of your hand. Easily camouflaged, plovers’ markings helped them blend into their original sandy beach habitat, which was dotted with a minimal amount of plants. The invasion of non-native beach grasses shrinking sandy areas and coastal development the plover increasingly, have nowhere to hide, making them easy targets for predators. With chicks the size of cottonballs and increased opportunities for predators, the future of the species is in great peril.
Find out more about the Western snowy plover…
Why Can’t Plovers Just Hide in the Grass?
Non-native grasses grow in dense clumps; the stalks so numerous and close that plovers cannot move into or through them. These non-native grasses are quick growing, sending rhizomes (roots)in all directions in search of water. New plants sprout from spreading rhizomes, quickly changing open sand to grass thickets.
Learn more about the effects of non-native beachgrass invasion on wildlife…
People: Helping or Hindering?
People play a key role in the plovers’ plight. Beach users can easily scare or kill plovers without knowing that the birds exist. The extreme camouflage and cryptic behaviors of the snowy plover can make driving over or directly stepping upon birds, chicks or nests easy to do. Dogs and flying kites mimic predators scaring birds off nests, leaving chicks and eggs more visible to predators like raccoons and crows.
Discover how the Refuge is helping plovers…
Plovers: Easy Targets for Predators
As the habitat of snowy plovers shrinks their predators have been gaining ground. Crows and raccoons benefit from human activities, especially increased access to food. Highly adaptable, these predators seek out locations with available trash and outdoor pet food to eat. More food equals more viable young, increasing predator populations.
You Can Help Plovers
Learn ways to share the beach with plovers…
Page Photo Credits Western snowy plover chicks - USFWS, Beach grass - USFWS, Girl with kite, Crow - USFWS
Last Updated: Apr 24, 2013