Personal tools
Document Actions


John Eisele was surprised to find Snowy Plovers nesting in the Yolo Basin Wildlife Area

Submitted by:  John Eisele, 11/07
This entry relates to past.
Category(ies) of this entry:  Nature, Neighborhoods

    One day while I was bird-watching in the Yolo Basin Wildlife Area,  I noticed boards alongside the dirt road, and a sign “Snowy Plovers nesting, keep away”.   I thought Snowy Plovers weren’t migratory, so something must have gone wrong.  Perhaps this pair got lost, or were forced down by bad weather.  My field guide shows a plain looking shorebird, the smallest, the whitest, and the rarest of the Plovers.  I saw that the nest was very meager, almost invisible with dirt and pebbles from the road, and in danger from trucks, overhead hawks as well as four legged creatures.  It was hard to believe that this Plover family could survive.  And, who would know and care if the nest was blown away?  Well, I cared, and the Yolo Basin Foundation  people cared because they put up the sign.
    When I returned the next week the male plover started screaming and hopping away from the nest with one wing bent down pretending it was broken.  This was to distract me.  Yes, I did stay away, but I got a glimpse of the nest with 4 tan colored eggs, with dark spots.  My book says 28 days to hatch and another 20 days to fly.  I imagined how scary it would be for the chicks, with SUVs kicking dust in their mouths and eyes (yuk), then people almost stepping on them (ouch).
    In a few weeks I returned hoping to see the eggs hatched, and was shocked to see no wooded sign, no nest, nothing.  I learned from the Fish/Game that a Black-necked Stilt ate two of the chicks.  The Stilt’s legs are twice as long as the whole Plover.  What a pity, but it is the Stilts’ territory not the Plovers’.  Fortunately two chicks survived and were rescued to a safe place and protected until they could learn to fly.  Many visitors including me wanted to take them home, but the Fish/Game folks wisely said no, you can’t teach a bird to fly at your place!

This site provided with the assistance of the Davis Community Network.