The Endangered Western Snowy Plovers

Snowy Plover Photograph by Michael L. Baird

Female Western Snowy Plover Photograph by Michael L. Baird

Identifying Them:

These Plovers are medium-sized birds (about 6-7 inches). They are part of the Charadriidae family, which  includes other species of plovers, lapwings and dotterels (about 66 species in all). Western Snowy Plovers have a dark line above their eye, on their neck and right next to their eye, but females tend to have it a little lighter in color.

Habitat:

They live year-round along the west coast and in the summer, breed in areas of Arizona and Washington. Western Snowy Plovers can be found on vegetated sand beaches along the coast.

Behavior:

  • Snowy Plovers forage on the ground by running around, pecking and searching for food.
  • Adults sometimes fake an injury to distract intruders away from their nests and nestlings.

Nesting and Nestlings:

Males build the nest which is on the ground, constructed by scraping in the vegetated sand.

Females almost always lay 3 eggs which are a grey-white color, with black and brown splotches. The male and female parents take turns incubating their eggs, females incubating in the daytime and males incubating during the night. Once the babies hatch they stay in the nest for a couple of hours but then they leave and are able to feed themselves. The male still sticks with the young and raises them, though the female leaves within a week. In about a month (30 days) the young learn to fly and become fledglings.

Diet:

Their main diet is insects like beetles or flies but they also like to eat crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic invertebrates.

Population Status:

These birds are on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List which is a list of birds that are the most endangered. Their population is decreasing for a few reasons but it’s mostly because of habitat alteration and higher recreational use of beaches on the coast.

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About faithelise

I love learning about species of birds and want to be an Ornathologist. Writing about birds is my passion and I love every part of it!
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