Western snowy plover nesting season gets underway on California beaches

Feb 29, 2016

Nesting season for the endangered western snowy plover officially starts on March 1, which means portions of some Central Coast beaches will be closed for several months to come. 

The western snowy plover at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes.
Credit Doug Jenzen, Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center

In the early 1990s, the plover's numbers dropped to roughly 1500 birds throughout its range—roughly Baja California to Washington State. As a result, conservation efforts were set into motion.

Audubon Conservation Specialist Jessica Nielsen works at UCSB's Coal Oil Point Reserve, a popular nesting ground for the endangered species. Nielsen told KCBX that she understands some people are not fond of the plover because of the recreational restrictions it brings.

"That's why a lot of places try to have a balance between intense conservation of the species as well as allowing public recreation on the beach," said Nielsen. "The best way to do that is through fences and signs, and that way both humans and snowy plovers can coexist in the same place."

Neilsen says plover eggs are light in color and blend in with the sand on Central Coast beaches.

Nesting season lasts through the end of September.