Snowy Plover

Charadrius nivosus
Range Map

The Snowy Plover’s story in Southern California is a troubled one, especially the Western Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus). The places it depends upon for breeding are sought after for human recreation and luxury living. Hence, the bird is endangered and, with even with our help, it struggles to survive.

It isn’t just the west coast populations that are in trouble. The Gulf coast, the Mississippi and Florida populations face serious challenges if they are to survive.

Modern science recognises two subspecies of Snowy Plover:

  • C. n. nivosus breeds along the Pacific Coast from Washington south to Baja California, across Great Basin from Montana south California and central Colorado, parts of the desert Southwest, and in the Great Plains (Saskatchewan south to Texas). Some southern populations are resident. Others spend winters around Gulf of California, the Pacific coast of Mexico, and the Gulf of Mexico.
  • C. n. occidentalis lives along the western coast of South America from central Ecuador to central Chile.

Most of my meetings with Snowy Plovers have come while I’ve accompanied biologist on their rounds to monitor these endearing birds, but I’ve also enjoyed some meetings at the Salton Sea in Imperial County (California).

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