Return of Beach-Nesting Snowy Plovers to Los Angeles County Following a 68-Year Absence

(Abstract) From 1950 through 2016, the Western Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) did not nest on Los Angeles County beaches. But between 16 April and 21 May 2017, up to four pairs initiated five nests in Los Angeles County and one at a new site in Orange County. Between 12 May and 15 June 2017, ten eggs hatched, including one incubated at a wildlife care facility. From these, a minimum of three chicks were known to have fledged. One nest was destroyed by high winds, a second by either high winds or possibly human disturbance. Plovers selected sites within or adjacent to areas protected by fenced enclosures. We protected all nests with mini-exclosures. We suggest that this recolonization was due to the combination of protection of potential nesting sites, protection of individual nests, and exceptional recent productivity at other nesting sites in southern California. The fenced enclosures provided essential protection from vehicles and encouraged accumulation of beach wrack around the nests and feeding areas. Additionally, once nests were established, the placement of exclosures provided essential protection from native predators and pet and feral dogs and cats. Protection with both fencing and exclosures, combined with management to minimize disturbance, will be essential for maintaining this new nesting population.