March 22, 2016 4:30 a.m.
Springtime sun and warmer March temperatures can bring visitors in droves to Oregon’s beaches.
For the western snowy plover, March means nesting. Information from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department says the tiny shorebird, protected under both state law and the Federal Endangered Species Act, usually begins nesting along west coach beaches in mid-March.
OPRD is responsible for managing recreation on Oregon’s ocean shore, overseeing snowy plover management areas and the recreation restrictions that come with an agreement between the state agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Plovers nest in dry open sand, in tiny shallow areas that are very well camouflaged. Not only are nests easy to either miss or step on, the bird will abandon its eggs if repeatedly disturbed by activities that it considers a threat.
During nesting season, riding bicycles or driving any kind of vehicle is not allowed on any stretch of beach managed for plovers. Where the birds actively nest, the dry sand around the nesting area is signed to keep people from accidently crushing the well-camouflaged eggs. Recreation is limited to the wet sand portion of the beach. Kites and dogs are not allowed anywhere in active nesting areas until the end of nesting season in September.
Most plover breeding areas in Oregon range from Florence south to Bandon. In recent years though, a smattering of nests have popped up at some north coast beaches as well.
Contact the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department for more information on restrictions that are in place due to the western snowy plover.