This Weekend is for the Birds

December 8, 2011

COWs are known for their love animals; horses, household pets, and the majestic wildlife that surrounds us. Woodside residents have an opportunity to develop skills this Saturday, December 10th to help protect a threatened species that nests locally, the Western Snowy Plover.

The Plovers are six-inch-long brown, black and white local shorebirds. They lay their eggs at several local beaches, including Half Moon Bay State Beach, in the summertime. To help protect the dwindling numbers of these plucky birds, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, a group called the Half Moon Bay State Beach Plover Watch holds training sessions for volunteers, who help protect nesting sites and count the Plovers twice a year. On Saturday, from 9 am to 2 pm Plover Watch will train volunteers at the State Beach office (95 Kelly Avenue, Half Moon Bay).

Plover nests have well-camouflaged eggs laid in a depression in the sand. Volunteers help find the nests and in help to build a wire protection to prevent predators such as ravens and gulls from taking the eggs. The eggs hatch about four weeks later. The chicks are cared for by the male for almost a month until they can fly. The chicks are particularly vulnerable during the weeks before they fledge.

Volunteers are expected to spend at least four hours per month monitoring on the beach or helping with specific projects. Volunteers also help survey beaches up and down the county during the West Coast snowy plover survey that occurs twice each year. The next survey of Plover numbers will be in January. Throughout the year, volunteers track banded snowy plovers to learn their migration patterns and nesting results. Volunteers also monitor the beach to make sure that people don’t disrupt the Plover nesting sites, but also to educate students and other beach-goers about the lives of these critters and the role they play in the ecosystem.

So if you’ve been looking for a worthy project and love our feathered friends, get yourself over to the Coast this weekend and help protect a key piece of California’s ecosystem.

To register for the free workshop or for more information, call Ranger Nelle Lyons or Paul Langan at 726-8804 (if voicemail press 7 #) or email

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