Friday, October 31, 2014

Early population survey results of the Pacific coast western snowy plover indicate another highly successful year towards recovery of the species listed as threatened under both federal and state Endangered Species Acts. Numbers from this year's field count indicate there were a total of 315 nests, the highest number of nests found in a given year.  Roughly 173 chicks fledged from those nests, one more than last year's total, and the highest number since monitoring began in 1990.

Snowy plover habitat ranges from Baja, Mexico north to the southern beaches of Washington. Numbers surveyed include only plovers nesting in Oregon. While many variables figure into improved numbers, predator management and public support play a large part in ongoing recovery of the species. A lot of thanks go to beach visitors who help out by observing signs and leashing their dogs to give plovers space to successfully nest and rear their young. One of the biggest challenges to ongoing recovery of the species is keeping plover nests intact through the breeding season—safe from walkers, dogs, and vehicles.

While there is much to be pleased about, there still remain some individual breeding sites that were not very productive, so there is room for improvement.  Luckily, the number of adult plovers – 290 for 2012, the highest estimate since intense monitoring began in 1990 – is gradually increasing and they can produce enough young birds to keep heading towards recovery of the species. In 2012 seven volunteers staged at nesting sites on the Oregon Dunes to alert visitors of dry sand closures and answer questions about the plover.

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