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A Stunning Event for Local Audubon Volunteers

May 9, 2017

Two weeks ago, Western Snowy Plovers nested on Los Angeles County Beaches for the first time in nearly 70 years. The first nest was on the Santa Monica North beach I regularly monitor. It was spotted by Dan Cooper of Cooper Ecological, who is well known to local birders. The 3-egg nest was found in a recently installed Dune Restoration site established by The Bay Foundation in December. The three-day windstorm April 27th-29th proved to be too much for the male plover incubating the nest, however, and the nest was abandoned. I was monitoring the area on Friday the 28th and experienced what I estimate to be 40 mph gusts–hard enough for us to stand up in that wind with sand blowing up to 6 feet high!

Within days of the Santa Monica nest, two more nests were found. One on Dockweiler Beach, and one on Malibu Lagoon Beach. The second was eventual abandoned or predated, but another nest was soon found just 10 yards away. Both of these nests were still viable as of this morning. Mini-exclosures and symbolic fencing have been erected to protect the birds and the nest from predation. Incubation is expected to last nearly another week, and if all goes well, there should be chicks on those beaches for another four weeks till they can fly on their own. Remember, these are precocial birds. They are not fed by their parents and must fend for themselves from birth.

Tom Ryan, biologist with the L.A. and Orange Counties Snowy Plover recovery project warns us to be careful. “All nests are on public beaches, but we would like to request that if anyone goes to view or photograph the nests that they remain outside of the protected areas and not disturb the birds in any way. Walking up to the nest can provide a very clear trail that potential predators can follow. Flushing the the incubating adult can lead to nest abandonment and failure. Thank you and a big thank you to the many people who have volunteered their time for many years monitoring our roosting plovers!”

Want to help watch for the birds and help them survive? Contact Stacey Vigallon, volunteer coordinator at L.A. Audubon: 

More information on the nesting event from US Fish and Wildlife: 

Helping the plovers will require more biologist and coordinator time in the near future. To contribute, go to    The plover is on the home page now.

Photos above courtesy of and © Thomas Ryan.  Nest on Santa Monica Beach 4/24/2017

Lu Plauzoles


Added note May 9th 10PM: The presence of these birds is well noted through major news organizations:

(You may have to search on the site using the keyword “plover”)

  1. carolbabeli permalink
    May 9, 2017 10:06 pm

    Thanks for this and for all that you do Lu! Carol babeli – LA Audubon

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. ednalvarez permalink
    May 9, 2017 4:43 pm

    Exciting news!!! Thanks for the share.


  3. cindymagic permalink
    May 9, 2017 3:13 pm

    Hi Lu,

    Thanks for the shout out and the support!



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