Washington's Coast
Washington State Department of Ecology

BEACHES
PLANTS
 
ANIMALS
razor clam
gray whale
humpback whale
butterfly
plover
crab
Snowy Plover adult on the upper beach
If disturbed, Snowy Plover chicks can be separated from parents
Help protect rare nesting shorebirds
  • Respect area closed signs on the beach.
  • Do not disturb Snowy Plovers. Stay away from nests.
  • Leave pets at home or keep them on a leash.
  • Pack out trash. Litter attracts predators.
Snowy Plover: an endangered shorebird
  • Snowy Plovers are rare, endangered shorebirds protected by law. (Washington State Endangered 1981; Federal Threatened, 1993)
  • These small shorebirds do not build a nest; they lay eggs on a scrape in the sand.
  • To protect nesting Snowy Plovers, a part of Leadbetter Point and Damon Point are closed to any entry, foot or car -- from March through August.
People threaten Snowy Plovers
People threaten Snowy Plover survival: off road vehicles can crush eggs and young; unleashed dogs roaming the beach can scare Snowy Plovers away from eggs; clammers and beach hikers can accidentally destroy nests. Snowy Plover populations have declined from Washington to California due to habitat loss and human disturbance.
Snowy Plover eggs are hard to see Do not disturb
If Snowy Plover adults are frightened from the nest, the eggs can be baked by the sun, chilled by rain, buried by sand, or eaten by predators.
Habitat loss due to beachgrass
As beachgrass spreads, Snowy Plovers lose habitat. Snowy Plovers nest on open, flat, sandy beaches above the high tide line. Once planted to stabilize dunes, beachgrass has reduced the amount of bare sand above the high tide line, decreased the width of the beach, and increased the slope of the beach.
 
Eggs easy to trample
The eggs and the birds can be hard to see, even when close-up. Sandy camouflage colors helps hide the eggs and young from predators -- but it also makes them easy to trample.
Newly hatched Snowy Plover chicks are vulnerable Hard to see, easy to crush
These newly hatched Snowy Plover chicks are hard to see. They are easy for beach walkers, joggers, cars, dogs, and horses to accidentally crush. Litter left by people attracts predators such as crows.
Images courtesy of Coos Bay Bureau of Land Management.

Snowy Plover slide show, Coos Bay Bureau of Land Management. Pictures of Snowy Plover eggs, chicks, breeding habitat, and reasons for population decline.

Western Snowy Plover, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Snowy Plover facts and descriptions.

Western Snowy Plover Ecology, Washington State Dept. of Fish & Wildlife.


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