Western Snowy Plover male and female photo by Sean McAllister. Image: Friends of the Dunes


Press release from Friends of the Dunes:

​​Love takes flight along the North Coast beaches as western snowy plovers prepare for the breeding season. As Valentine’s Day approaches, these avian companions embark on their unique journey of courtship.

The plover breeding season, spanning from March 1 to September 15, is drawing near along the picturesque North Coast beaches. Migratory western snowy plovers, some of whom ventured away for the winter, are making their way back as the breeding season approaches. While some plovers choose to migrate, others have chosen to spend the winter at or near their local breeding areas.

Male plovers invest considerable effort in charming their female counterparts during this critical period. To win over their potential mates, these males meticulously create multiple nests called “scrapes” – small, shallow cup-shaped depressions in the sand. They use their legs to kick out sand and their breasts to smooth out the shape. The males often adorn these scrapes with pebbles, small pieces of driftwood, and shells to help the scrape camouflage into its surroundings. The females play an active role in this romantic dance, testing out these scrapes before deciding on the ideal nesting spot.

Between migration, pair establishment, and daily survival (which is especially challenging during the winter storms), this is a big time of year for these little birds! To minimize additional stress that would negatively impact their success in any of these activities, please follow these guidelines:

  • Know beach-specific dog rules before you go. If dogs are permitted, follow the leash rules. Prevent your dog(s) from chasing birds.
  • Admire birds from afar. Do your best at giving birds distance.
  • Leave no trace. Garbage attracts predators such as gulls, crows, ravens, and skunks. Please dispose of all trash properly and avoid inadvertently (or intentionally) feeding wildlife. Human food can make wildlife very sick.
  • If you’re on a beach that allows vehicles, drive ‘low and slow’, staying on the hard-packed sand. Drive below the high tide line where plovers and other shorebirds forage. Avoid driving in other vehicle tracks; plovers often like to sit in vehicle track depressions.
  • Walk on the wet, hard-packed sand below the wrack line (the line at the beach where the seaweed and marine debris gathers).
  • Check and follow beach-specific camping and campfire regulations.

To balance recreational opportunities and wildlife protection along the North Coast, beach activities may be restricted to certain areas during the breeding season, March 1- September 15. You can do your part in protecting adults, chicks, and eggs by knowing and adhering to location-specific rules and regulations. For more information on the snowy plover and YOU, beach rules and regulations, beach access, and a user-friendly dog guide, explore the following links: