Western Snowy Plover


Morro Coast Audubon Society is committed to the protection of the Western Snowy Plover and stewardship of its habitat in Morro Bay in partnership with State Parks.
In 2001, Morro Coast Audubon Society started the Habitat Conservation and Plover Recovery Program in partnership with Morro Bay State Parks. This program led a dedicated team of local volunteer docents as they acted as plover ambassadors on Morro Bay’s eight miles of plover nesting habitat. These volunteers donated 1,000s of hours to help reduce human impacts on these coastal beaches by educating the public about conservation and the importance of protecting the Snowy Plover’s sensitive nesting habitat. Volunteers also keep watch on plover signage and fencing, and contribute to plover habitat protection during all major holidays occurring in the Western Snowy Plover breeding season.

These Morro Bay State Park beaches are also critical summer and wintering grounds for other shorebirds on the Pacific Flyway, including the following Audubon watch-list species: Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Sanderling, Western Sandpiper, Heermann’s Gull, and Elegant Tern. These birds, as well as many other plant and animal species, greatly benefit from the management and outreach efforts that State Parks and volunteers put into protecting the Snowy Plovers.

Sharing our Shores
Morro Coast Audubon Society created the Sharing our Shores Program in 2006 to educate the local Morro Bay community about sharing the beach with Snowy Plovers. Volunteers educated local school children about Snowy Plover ecology and the children painted signs based on lessons learned for an art contest. Winning drawings were made into hard plastic signs that are now strung along habitat areas in Morro Bay. This successful program has been replicated along the California coast by 8 other Audubon chapters and is even being used on the east coast and for grebes nesting at inland lakes! 

Download printable art by children.
Download CA State Parks brochure Western Snowy Plover: Sharing the Beach.

Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteers are needed to assist MCAS with classroom lectures and interpretive walks to local school groups and the public. Volunteers are also needed to assist Morro Bay State Park management in protecting the Snowy Plover from disturbance by raising awareness among park visitors of the importance of the Snowy Plover and the coastal dune habitat. Public outreach may involve operating a Snowy Plover educational booth, providing educational crafts for children, or roving the beach making contacts with visitors about how to use the beach responsibly. Each of these opportunities plays a crucial role in the protection of the Snowy Plovers. During the winter months (October through February), in addition to public outreach, the volunteers will conduct counts of the Snowy Plovers and record any color band combinations seen. Training on identification, natural history, and threats to the Snowy Plover and their coastal dune habitat will be provided.

To sign up, contact:
Regena M. Orr
Environmental Scientist
California State Parks
regena.orr@parks.ca.gov
805-772-6325

Acknowledgements
Morro Coast Audubon, Audubon California, and California State Parks would like to acknowledge Marla Morrissey for her many years of support and commitment to Western Snowy Plover protection. Her tireless work has helped advance the management and outreach efforts for this species and we are grateful for her contributions.