206. Snowy Plovers

A female Snowy Plover with 1 egg. Photo by Laird Henkel of Point Blue
A male Snowy Plover. Photo by Blake Matheson.

206. Snowy Plovers: A Threatened Bird Population (1 minute and 30 seconds)
Dave Dixon, Environmental Scientist, RA 

Howdy! My name is Dave Dixon and I am a former Ranger who is now working as a Retired employee with the Snowy Plover Program.

Western snowy plovers are threatened due to disturbance, predation and habitat loss. The plover nests on the beach. Disturbance by dogs or hikers frightens ground nesting Snowy Plover from their nests, leaving eggs and chicks vulnerable to predators and the elements.

Predators on the beach are also threats. Dogs chase and may catch birds and chicks, and even leashed dogs look like a dangerous predator to a plover. Native predators such as crows, ravens, shrikes and skunks and exotic predators such as the red fox can kill the birds.

Why should you care about the snowy plover? They once numbered in the thousands and fewer than 1500 breeding plovers remain. Since snowy plovers are listed as a threatened species and protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, beach visitors who harm or disturb plovers or their habitat may be cited and fined. Plovers need our help if they are to survive.

California State Parks is doing a wide variety of things to help this bird survive. Plovers are monitored to determine the number of birds using parklands and the success of their breeding attempts. During nesting times portions of the beach are closed to people. When predators pose a problem, control programs are initiated.