As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Threatened bird on the rebound

Score one for the western snowy plover.
The threatened shorebird had a strong year on the Oregon coast, where wildlife managers tallied 315 nests and 173 fledged chicks. The numbers were up slightly from last year, continuing a generally positive trend.

“This was our best nesting season ever in Oregon since we began monitoring in 1990, so we’re feeling really good,” said Cindy Burns, a Siuslaw National Forest wildlife biologist assigned to the Central Coast Ranger District and Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

“There were some nesting sites that did not do well, but the majority of sites did really well on fledgling chicks.”

Measuring about 6 inches long, the western snowy plover is a brown, black and white shorebird that lays its eggs in open sand. The bird’s Pacific Coast population was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1993.

Since then, protection efforts have helped the plover’s numbers bounce back in many parts of its range, including coastal Oregon. This year’s tally of 290 adult plovers is the highest since monitoring began and includes an estimated 231 breeding birds.

Burns credits the upward trend in large part to measures such as fencing off nesting areas, educating the public and controlling predators such as crows, ravens and, in some areas, red foxes. Mild weather has also played a role.

“It’s probably a combination of all those things together, plus Mother Nature giving the birds a break,” she said.

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