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Our Favorite Bird Has Its Own Conference

January 27, 2016

In addition to armed take-overs of bird refuges, copious amounts of rain, and new brew pubs still opening up, Oregon was host this year to the annual Range Wide Western Snowy Plover Conference, in Portland. This conference takes place annually in one of the six regions along the eastern Pacific where Snowy Plovers call home. It is attended by biologists, and others involved in Snowy Plover recovery, monitoring and research. From Tijuana to Los Angeles is Region Six, and here in Region Six we have a goal each year of 500 breeding pairs of Snowy Plovers. The good news is we are very near that goal at 484, which is impressive considering the challenges in this locale that other more remote areas don’t face, such as millions of beach-visits by people (and sometimes, their dogs),  rampant coastal development, and military bases on breeding sites. Los Angeles County, including all the plover habitats along our own stretch here on Santa Monica Bay, has a local goal of zero breeding pairs. That’s right, a big fact zero–and we are proudly meeting that goal every year because this area is very important. So why are the Snowy Plover roosting sites along Santa Monica Bay considered so important when they are home to no chicks or breeding pairs?
snowy plover.jpgBecause here on the bay, our sandy beaches provide important winter roosting sites. We don’t allow driving on our beaches as in many other areas up and down the coast. We generally don’t allow dogs. We don’t host vast influxes of people all at once on the beach for clamming season, and we have cooperative life guards who look our for the plovers and alert the public to their presence. Other ecological reason contribute to the importance of the bay as a winter roost as well, so although this area does not provide habitat to plover chicks, when they get a bit older, they will likely spend some time here in fall and winter when they need safe space to forage and rest.
rain beach (3).jpg
So when the temperature is in the sixties and the sky is grey or drizzly, grab your camera because it’s a great beach day–to see our wintering snowy plovers. You’ll usually find them at Zuma Beach, Malibu Lagoon, Santa Monica Beach near the Annenberg Beach House, Dockweiler Beach and Redondo Beach. To find out more:

Credits: Jenny Erbes, top photo, text by Laurel Hoctor Jones

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