Western Snowy Plover

Protection of the Western Snowy Plover and
Stewardship of its Habitat in Morro Bay

Sharing the Beach -- a History

In 2001, Morro Coast Audubon Society started the Habitat Conservation and Plover Recovery Program in partnership with California 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 kept watch on plover signage and fencing, and contributed to plover habitat protection during all major holidays occurring in the Western Snowy Plover breeding season.

In 2006, Morro Coast Audubon Society created the Sharing our Shores Program 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 were strung along habitat areas in Morro Bay. This successful program was replicated along the California coast by 8 other Audubon chapters, and also along the east coast and for grebes nesting at inland lakes!

Download Kids Art Signs and CA State Parks brochure Western Snowy Plover: Sharing the Beach.


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. Thank you Marla!

Volunteer Opportunities

A Volunteers Coordinator(s) is needed to assist State Park management in developing a volunteer program to protect the Western 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.

Snowy Plovers are found not only in Morro Bay, but also at San Simeon, Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, Osos Flaco, and other coastal beaches. These beaches and bay 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.

For more information or to sign up, contact:
Regena M. Orr
Environmental Scientist
California State Parks