Access to Point Reyes beach was denied so p could thrive

Miles of large beaches on the Point Reyes National Seashore will remain off-limits on weekends and federal holidays between now and Labor Day to give a small threatened shorebird a chance to survive.

The coastal dunes and shoreline between the mouth of the Abbotts Lagoon and the North Beach parking lot on the western edge of the National Seashore are now reserved for breeding monitoring of western snow plover.

The plover’s breeding season is underway and will last until September. The sack-sized coastal bird has been federally listed as a threatened species since 1993. Their habitats—coasts, peninsulas, bays, and estuaries—are along the Pacific coast from Oregon to California. The total number of these birds is estimated to be around 2,500.

Snowy plover often nests in the sand, where beachgoers can step on their eggs.

Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images

Plover’s nests usually contain three small eggs and are disguised to look like sand to protect predators such as falcons, coyotes and owls. According to the Audubon Society, plover’s energy is limited, and human interference, such as walking nearby or even flying a kite, can cause the bird to fly out of its nest.

The National Park Service says chick mortality is higher on weekends than on weekdays. It cites an example from 2013, when only three of the 11 chicks hatched recently in the area survived after the July 4 weekend.

After last year’s breeding season, Point Reyes Light reports some promising news: Ecologists are delighted to have found two pups hatching from their nests near Abbotts Lagoon, and have raised expectations for their overall population.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *