Western snowy plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) are small shorebirds with pale brown or gray sand-colored backs and white breasts. Pacific coast populations generally nest within 50 miles of the ocean on the mainland coast, and coastal locations consist of both wintering migrants and year round residents. Plovers commonly breed above the high tide line on sparsely vegetated sandy coastal beaches during the winter months.
The species was listed as federally threatened in 1993. In California, there has been a significant decline in breeding locations because of increasing recreational use of beaches and other various forms of human disturbance. Their diminishing numbers are also largely due to habitat loss and degradation from the encroachment of nonnative beach grass and other vegetation, along with the increased threat of non-native predators such as common ravens and foxes.