The threatened western snowy plover lays her eggs in a shallow scrape in the sand along the west coast. These camouflaged nests are barely visible, making the young very vulnerable to disturbance.
Visitors and residents on the Oregon Coast are playing a huge role in the recovery of western snowy plovers by respecting beach use restrictions during the March 15-Sept. 15 nesting season.
Signs or ropes alert beachgoers to sensitive plover nesting areas and list specific restrictions for the area.
In most cases, there are beaches without restrictions available to the public directly to the north or south of these managed areas.
With the strong comeback of plovers in Oregon, the birds are moving beyond specifically designated nesting areas managed by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and federal land managers.
This is especially true on the central Oregon coast, where nesting plovers can again be found in areas such as South Beach State Park in Newport.
As a result, there may be unmarked nests in need of protection and the continued cooperation of beachgoers is needed to give plovers the space they need to successfully nest and raise their young.
Because plovers nest in dune areas and dry sand, the easiest way to help them is to stay on the wet sand area of the beach. Should beachgoers come across an unmarked nest, keep a respectful distance of 50 feet and report the nest’s location to the Parks and Recreation Department.
To ensure the eggs and future chicks have the best possible chance of survival, beach visitors can help by following a few simple guidelines:
Respect all areas posted or roped-off for the protection of wildlife.
When walking on the beach, stay on the wet hard-packed sand. Do not approach birds or nests.
Follow all rules for responsible camping and campfires.
If dogs are permitted, don’t allow your dog to play in the dry sand areas where birds are more prone to nest. Never allow your dog to chase birds.
Do not leave or bury trash or food scraps on the beach. Garbage attracts predators such as gulls, crows, ravens and skunks. Please dispose of all trash properly and do not inadvertently or intentionally feed wildlife.
If you are on a beach that allows vehicles, drive slowly, staying on the hard-packed sand below or near the high tide line.
Avoid flying kites or other hovering objects near plover-nesting habitat; plovers mistake these objects for predators and leave their nests.
Listed in 1993 as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act with as few as 30 birds, the population has been rebounding in Oregon. Last year, there were 524 birds nesting in all of Oregon’s coastal counties, a record number since being listed, all thanks to a strong partnership and public support.