This little cottonball with wings is a shorebird superhero! Every year, during the summer months, adult snowy plovers in our Aviary act as surrogate parents for rescued chicks.
Once numbering in the thousands, these feisty feathered friends now struggle for survival. But our proud plover parents at the Aquarium are helping to make sure their species doesn’t wind up as empty nesters!
Snowy plovers nest out in the open on the same beaches where people and their doggos like to play. Plover nests are tough to spot because they’re just shallow dips in the sand. Sometimes plovers even nest in human footprints! Rambunctious puppers off-leash, or distracted sunbathers, may spook the adult birds away from their eggs. Left unattended, the eggs can be crushed, eaten by sharp-eyed predators, or they can overheat in the sun.
That’s when we, and other snowy plover rescuers and watchers, step in. As one of the main rehabilitation sites in Northern California for shorebirds, we work hard to make a difference for this vulnerable population.
Together with local and regional parks and avian conservation groups, we rescue abandoned, threatened or damaged snowy plover eggs, chicks and adults during their breeding season from March through September. Behind the scenes, our aviculture staff incubates eggs and introduces our own rescued adults to newly hatched chicks while they grow.
Since we began our plover rehabilitation program in 2000, we’ve successfully released over 135 birds! We keep an eye on them in the wild, too, and know that many of the plovers we’ve rescued have successfully reproduced. Those colorful bands around their legs let us know who’s who—a style both fashionable and functional!
Important Plover PSA: If you do see a snowy plover in the wild, watch it quietly, and keep your distance. To help prevent adult plovers from abandoning their nests and keep other shorebirds safe, keep your puppers on a leash at the beach and stay out of areas that are blocked off as bird nesting sites.Thanks for doing your part to help these plucky plovers enjoy their beach-house too!