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Snowy Plovers on Film

April 20, 2020


Over the decades, many members of Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society have been intimately involved with the threatened Western Snowy Plovers (WSP) on our beaches, largely because the plovers have historically maintained six winter roosting locations within our chapter area. Extremely faithful to their roosting locations, WSPs are rarely found farther than 200 meters from their roost, usually forage within 50 meters, and spend half their time resting or arguing within the array of tiny scrapes that constitute the roost.

But many other Audubon Chapters and other organizations are just as -or more! – involved with these birds. Some of them make films. Here are a few.

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Ventura Audubon Society (Link to twelve short films)
With titles like “WSP6 Rearranging on the Nest,” “What We Do,” and “Snowy Plover Territory Fight” these twelve films, none over 3:06 long, is a great look at the birds, up close and personal. “What We Do” includes nesting endangered Least Terns as well. Cynthia Hartley produced all these great little films.

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Western Snowy Plover Nest Predation
Produced in January 2003 by Jack Fancher for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Length: 7:46

The eggs of the WSPs nesting at Bolsa Chica in Orange County were heavily predated by local American Crows, until the ME (mini-exclosure or metallic exclosure) was developed for them. This simple and easily erected cage-like structure keeps crows and hawks out, but doesn’t hamper the plovers at all.

Jack Fancher writes:

The Western Snowy Plover (Threatened with extinction) lays eggs in an obscure nest scrape in the sand or dirt, relying on cryptic coloration to evade predation. At Bolsa Chica, snowy plovers nested on dried out salt pans and dried out mud flats. The area is surrounded by urban areas that sustain large numbers of crows and ravens that spill over into the Bolsa Chica area. The loss of snowy plover eggs to corvid predation before the.eggs could hatch was greatly reducing plover reproductive success. A mini-exclosure (ME) was deployed over nests that kept the crows away from the plover nests but allowed the incubating plovers to come and go from the nest without constraint. The ME looks like a cage, but is virtually invisible to the snowy plover within just a few seconds of placement. Plover egg losses are greatly reduced as a result of ME placement.

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With Monitoring Limited, Someone Drove Through a Snowy Plover Nesting Site

National Audubon Society article by Alastair Bland, published 4-1-20
Due to pandemic-related restrictions, vulnerable shorebirds may have to rely on the kindness of strangers this breeding season.
Link to article
Documenting the harassment of WSPs on Ormond Beach, in Ventura County, California, nesting area featured in the Ventura Audubon Society films above.
[Chuck Almdale]

 

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