A Productive Western Snowy Plover Breeding Season Comes to a Close

The 2017 Western Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) breeding season officially wrapped up at Point Reyes National Seashore at the end of August, with the last brood fledging a single chick on North Beach. This season saw a total of 46 nests: five on Kehoe Beach, seven in the Abbotts Lagoon Restoration Area, 22 on the beach between Abbotts Lagoon and the North Beach parking lot, one between the North and South Beach parking lots, and 11 on Limantour Beach. In total, 22 of the 46 nests successfully hatched at least one egg (47.8%), which is slightly lower than what was seen in 2016 (54.8% of 42 nests).
Three plovers with colored leg bands stand around a beach log
Recently fledged juveniles residing in a winter flock on North Beach (banded av:yb). These are two of three juveniles that hatched from an exclosed nest that was adjacent to the trail from the North Beach parking lot.

NPS / Matt Lau

27 of the 46 nests were exclosed from predators, and 19 of these exclosed nests hatched at least one egg (70.4% success). The most common cause of nest failure was predation (by Common Ravens and skunks) and a few nests were abandoned for unknown reasons. 56 chicks hatched from the 22 successful nests, of which 23 (41%) fledged (i.e., survived to 28 days after hatch and can survive independently of dad). Comparatively, 20 out of 48 chicks survived to fledge in 2016 (43.5% fledge rate).

This is only the second year since 1995 where plovers have nested between North Beach and South Beach. Additionally, this is the third year in a row where plovers nested on Limantour Beach after a 14-year absence. This also marked the first time they nested on the beach between the Limantour parking lots, which prompted a partial beach closure. Contact Matt Lau for additional details.

Last updated: September 29, 2017