San Diego Zoo Global Researchers Banding, Tracking Snowy Plover Chicks Hatching in Nesting Area on Naval Amphibious Base Coronado

Two day-old Western snowy plover chicks huddle together in the sand this morning on Naval Base Coronado. These chicks were weighed, measured and given leg bands by a San Diego Zoo Global researcher before being re-released into their native habitat. The western snowy plover is a small shorebird found on beaches along the Pacific coast from Washington to Baja California.

Researchers go out to look for chicks six days a week and have recorded and banded more than 70 chicks this nesting season. Snowy plovers lay eggs in small indentations in the sand. The plover’s white and tan coloring makes it difficult for researchers to find the chicks, but it also camouflages them from predators, including crows, ravens and peregrine falcons.

The birds will sit and incubate their eggs for 28 days but will leave their nests when threatened by people. The snowy plover’s decline is attributed to loss of nesting habitat and habitat degradation caused by expanding beachfront development and recreation, human disturbance and predation.

Naval Base Coronado is committed to maintaining a productive habitat for the birds that is properly managed so as not to lose military training or conservation value over the long term. This goal has resulted in site protection and monitoring of the species. To assist with their conservation efforts, the Navy has hired researchers from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research to help monitor the birds’ habitat during their nesting season, March 1 through Sept. 15.