Snowy Plover Update - June 28, 2020

June 28, 2020 Posted by: Matt Lau

Overview

Hello Plover Lovers! This is the second update for the month of June and breeding activity has significantly picked up on Point Reyes beaches. Since the June 6 update, we have found an additional 13 new nests and have added two fledglings to the scoreboard. Nest success has been around average, but chick and fledgling survival has been poor so far. Only two out of 15 total chicks that have hatched this season have made it to fledging (not including the three chicks currently on the beach).

Based on our results from the Breeding Window Survey—a week-long effort to count all breeding plovers present in the seashore—we estimated that the breeding population of western snowy plovers have increased from 19 adults in 2019 to 39 adults in 2020! Reasons for this sizable increase could be due to: higher overwinter survival for both adults and juveniles; an increase in number of juveniles hatched in 2019 sticking around to breed in Point Reyes; and/or an increase in number of immigrants from other areas along the coastline.

Here are updates organized by beach sites:

Kehoe (K)

There have been four nests found on Kehoe Beach so far; currently there are two that are active. Both are due to hatch in the next week and a half. All breeding activity on this site has been at the north end of the beach, closer to Kehoe trail.

Abbotts Lagoon Restoration Area (RA)

No plovers have been observed within the RA this entire season, despite the one failed nest that was found by biologists after a month hiatus due to Shelter-in-Place orders. Egg shell fragments were found at an old nest cup with what looked to be raven tracks leading up to it. The inactivity in this site is likely due to chronic nest and chick failure at this site in the past few years, mostly due to high common raven activity.

Abbotts Lagoon to North Beach parking lot (NP)

This remains one of our most active sites this year. We have found 19 nests here, mostly within 1.5 miles of North Beach parking lot. Biologists observed 20 adult plovers along this stretch of beach in mid-June! Four nests here have hatched, though only two chicks have fledged. Currently, there are recently hatched chicks running around on the beach close to North Beach parking lot. There are three known nests still active here.

North Beach (NB)

We currently do not have any active nests or pairs on this site. Breeding activity slowed down after mid-May and all the breeding plovers here decided to move north of North Beach parking lot, joining the several other breeding pairs there. Biologists will continue to monitor this section for any activity.

Limantour (L)

We are continuing to see little breeding activity on this site—there is only one pair residing here, who had a nest hatch this past week. Biologists, unfortunately, found that two of the three chicks died within a few days of hatching; we have consistently only observed one hatchling present with the dad.

South Beach (SB)

Biologists have found two new nests at this site in the past week. This is the most plover breeding activity we have observed since the 1980s! Both nests are protected by nest exclosures and symbolic fencing.

If you have any questions, please contact Matt Lau, the park's Snowy Plover Ecologist, via email.

Current Stats

  • 34 nests so far this season
    • 7 active nest
    • 7 hatched
    • 20 failed nests
  • 3 chicks on the beach
  • 2 chicks fledged
Two small speckled eggs on sand surrounded by a few driftwood sticks.

One of three nests on South Beach. Plover eggs are simply laid on the sand and delicately decorated with white pebbles by the adults. South Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore.


The National Park Service shall not be held liable for improper or incorrect use of the data described and/or contained herein. These data and related graphics (if available) are not legal documents and are not intended to be used as such. The information contained in these data is dynamic and may change over time. The National Park Service gives no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy, reliability, or completeness of these data. For more information: https://www.nps.gov/disclaimer.htm

PointReyes, PointReyesNational Seashore, bird, birds, plover, plovers, snowyplover, snowyplovers, westernsnowyplover, westernsnowyplovers, Charadriusnivosus, Charadriusnivosusnivosus



Last updated: June 29, 2020

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