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Western Snowy Plover chicks on north coast beach

May 26, 2017

After more than 50 years, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) wildlife biologists have learned that at least one western snowy plover chick has hatched on a beach at Nehalem Bay State Park. This is the first verified hatchling in the area since the 1960s, and follows three years of increased sightings and species activity, including nesting attempts.

Western snowy plovers are a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act, and are protected in all west coast states. Collaborative efforts like OPRD's Habitat Conservation Plan, developed in coordination with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), is showing results with the expansion of snowy plovers northward. The population is growing along parts of the southern Oregon coast, where areas with signs and nest designations are part of everyday beachgoing in the spring and summer. Yet, species recovery is much more likely to continue if populations can establish themselves along the entire coast.

OPRD asks that visitors keep a cautious eye out. Plovers nest in dry sand, in tiny, shallow scrapes that are almost invisible. Not only are nests easy to miss, or step on, but the bird will abandon its eggs if repeatedly disturbed. Plover chicks are mobile almost immediately after hatching. They freeze in place and hide in small depressions--like footprints--when they perceive danger.

The Nehalem nesting area, like all nesting sites, is clearly designated with signs, and they remain off limits until the nesting season ends.

Maps and more information can be found at bit.ly/wsplover.