It’s Plover Appreciation Day! Get ready to appreciate some plovers.
This is a snowy plover:
These fragile shorebirds once numbered in the thousands along the U.S. Pacific coast. After decades of losing their sandy beach habitat, only about 2,500 plovers are left breeding along that same coastline today.
This is a snowy plover nest:
Snowy plovers make their nests in shallow dips in the sand, sometimes even human footprints.
If people or animals
approach, the adult plover will flee and may not return for hours,
leaving its eggs to be crushed, overheated in the sun or eaten by a sharp-eyed
Here’s how we’re helping:
Rescuers often bring distressed plovers and abandoned eggs to the Monterey Bay Aquarium—one of the main shorebird rehabilitation sites in northern California. We treat sick and injured birds and transfer eggs to an incubator. If all goes well, an egg will hatch about 35 days after it’s laid.
Once chicks hatch, we get to work preparing them for eventual release into the wild. In order to be released, chicks must:
- Know how to fly
- Know how to find food on their own
- Be appropriately wary of humans
- Weigh at least 30 grams
Since launching our snowy plover program in 2000, we’ve successfully released 134 plovers back into the wild, including 84 from rescued eggs.
Here’s how you can help:
Avoid inadvertently driving adult plovers from their nests. Keep your dog on a leash on beaches during snowy plover breeding season and stay out of areas that have been blocked off as bird nesting sites.
In addition to being adorable fluffballs, snowy plovers are an important part of the shoreline ecosystem. Thank you for helping us protect them!
Over on the East Coast, it’s piping plovers, and they’re in a similar predicament. Beaches are regularly closed off during breeding season, much to the grumbling of locals. I don’t know if there’s a similar program on this side of the US.
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