Sharing the beach with Western Snowy Plovers on Memorial Day

Two Adult Western Snowy Plovers by Natalia Sojka

Friends of the Dunes

HUMBOLDT – Memorial Day weekend is almost here! Enjoying our public lands on this holiday is a way you may choose to honor and reflect on the sacrifices that so many have made for our country. 

If you choose to visit our public beaches this Memorial Day, you won’t be alone. Threatened western snowy plovers live and depend on North Coast beaches. These small, ground-nesting shorebirds are currently in their breeding season. Right now, plovers are finding mates, laying and incubating eggs, and caring for chicks. 

Plovers live on open, sandy beaches, hunting for small bugs along the high tide line and nesting on dry sand areas with sparse, native vegetation. Nests are well camouflaged to help keep away predators like ravens, falcons, and skunks. Because nests are so well disguised, even well-intentioned people (and their dogs and horses) can pose a threat by accidentally trampling eggs and chicks, or by disturbing adults, causing them to lose energy reserves, leave eggs and chicks unattended and vulnerable to predators, or potentially abandon nests. 

When observing Memorial Day on beaches this year, there are some things you can do to ensure plover adults, eggs and chicks have the best possible chance of survival: 

• Respect all areas with posted signs and/or roped-off for the protection of wildlife. 

• When walking on the beach, stay on the wet, hard-packed sand. Do not approach birds or nests. 

• Avoid prolonged picnicking or sunbathing near plover-nesting habitat. 

• Camp or build fires only in designated areas. 

• Be sure to know beach-specific dog rules before you go. If dogs are permitted, follow the leash rules and don't allow your dog to play in dry sand areas where birds are more prone to nest. Never allow your dog to chase birds. 

• Do not leave or bury trash or food scraps on the beach. Garbage attracts predators such as gulls, crows, ravens and skunks. Please dispose of all trash properly and do not inadvertently (or intentionally) feed wildlife. 

• If you’re on a beach that allows vehicles, drive ‘low and slow’, staying on the hard-packed sand below the high tide line. 

• Avoid flying kites or other hovering objects near plover-nesting habitat. 

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

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information about our work and the people who make it happen, visit or connect with us via Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr. 

The Bureau of Land Management's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. 

Friends of the Dunes is dedicated to conserving the natural diversity of coastal environments through community supported education and stewardship programs. 

The California Department of Parks and Recreation’s mission is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state's extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. 



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