LAMAR, Colo. – Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are asking visitors to John Martin, Adobe Creek and Nee Gronda Reservoirs for help in protecting two rare shorebirds that nest in Colorado.
As in previous years, parks and wildlife managers will be closing access to some shoreline areas to protect the nests of least terns and piping plovers. The closures, which may be several acres in size, will run from early April through mid-August.
“These are little birds that are really good at blending into sandy shorelines,” explained Mike Smith, Conservation Biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the Lamar area. “We’ll have volunteers and staff biologists marking off the nesting areas, but we also ask visitors to be on the lookout for their hard-to-see nest scrapes and eggs.”
The least tern is a small, swallow-like bird with black outer wing feathers that is sometimes seen diving head-first into the water after fish. The smallest of the North American terns, it can be identified by its distinctive black crown, white forehead and black-tipped yellow bill. Both Colorado and the federal government have designated the least tern as an endangered species.
The piping plover is a tiny shorebird with pale brown plumage and a black bar across the forehead. Piping plovers typically nest on sandy lakeshore beaches or on river sandbars that are free of vegetation, relying on their cryptic coloration as camouflage from predators. The piping plover is listed as a threatened species by the state of Colorado and under the federal Endangered Species Act.