Snowy Plovers scurry up and down shorelines as they search for food and take off in wheeling flights or running retreats when surprised or threatened. Scarce and usually spread out, these diminutive shorebirds are well camouflaged by their pale plumage, making them easy to overlook in their natural surroundings.
On the Menu
Coastal Snowy Plovers feed on tiny aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, including crustaceans, mollusks, marine worms, and insects. Interior populations eat mainly insects.
Home Sweet Home
The species breeds along the Gulf Coast from Florida to the Yucatan Peninsula, along the Pacific Coast from Washington to Baja California, and in scattered locations across the western interior from Saskatchewan to Texas. Outside of the breeding season, they are found in coastal areas on the West Coast, Gulf Coast, and various Caribbean islands.
How Am I Doing?
The Snowy Plover is identified on Audubon's WatchList as a species of highest conservation concern. Snowy Plovers are vulnerable to many human activities that result in the loss and degradation of their coastal habitats and breeding grounds. In the western interior, the species has been affected by damming, the flooding of salt flats for water impoundments, and the encroachment of invasive vegetation into suitable nesting areas. The population breeding along the Pacific Coast of the United States and Baja California is listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Other states list the species as endangered or threatened.
Help from Audubon
Audubon state offices and chapters organize volunteers to help protect Snowy Plover nesting habitat in coastal areas including Florida and California.
Snowy Plover nests are simple scrapes on bare open ground, frequently located near a conspicuous object like a clam shell, a piece of kelp, or driftwood.