2018 Nesting Season Underway for Western Snowy Plovers at Point Reyes

Three camouflaged baby birds on the beach with colored bands around their legs
Recently hatched western snowy plover chicks at Point Reyes are banded as a part of a program to help track and understand populations of this threatened species at Point Reyes National Seashore.

NPS / Matt Lau

May 2018 - The western snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) breeding season at Point Reyes National Seashore is entering its peak period, which usually lasts from May until mid-July. Long-term monitoring has revealed that 11 of the 24 nests found since early April have failed due to predation (largely by common ravens) and environmental factors (e.g., tidal overwash). Five nests have hatched thus far, three of which were on Limantour Beach—a plover hot spot this season with a total of seven nests.

This is the third year in a row birds have decided to nest at this site after more than a decade-long absence. Furthermore, three nests have been found between the Limantour Beach parking lots thanks to a partial beach closure that has reduced disturbances to incubating adults and their nests. The park continues to rely on visitors to respect beach closures and comply with leash laws in this and other nesting areas.

Nine out of the 23 juveniles that hatched last breeding season returned to Point Reyes for the 2018 season—a fact that is known thanks to a banding program started in 2015. In addition to return rates, banding also allows managers to estimate overwintering survival, giving them more information about the status of the Seashore’s snowy plovers than they’ve ever had before. To learn more contact Matt Lau.

Last updated: May 31, 2018