The western snowy plover is a small shorebird, about 6 inches long, with a thin dark bill, pale brown to gray upper parts, white or buff colored belly, and darker patches on its shoulders and head, white forehead and supercilium (eyebrow line). Snowy plovers also have black patches above their white forehead and behind the eye. Juvenile and basic (winter) plumages are similar to adult, but the black patches are absent. Some breeding males, especially in the southern portion of the speciesâ range, may exhibit a rusty or tawny cap. Their dark gray to black legs are a useful characteristic when comparing them to other plover species.
The Pacific Coast population of the western snowy plover is federally threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. It is also a Bird Species of Special Concern in California. Snowy plovers were listed as endangered under Washington Department of Game Policy No. 402 in 1981, and as threatened by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in 1975. The threatened status in Oregon was reaffirmed in 1989 under the Oregon Endangered Species Act.
Ron LeValley/LeValley Photographs/USFWS
March 30, 2014
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