Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

Snowy Plover Broods Undergo Challenges

July 1, 2021
The shorebird nesting season is full of highs and lows that reflect the challenges wildlife constantly encounters.
Last week, one of the island’s snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) broods lost all its chicks within a few days. The parents had left their chicks unattended to attack other broods, so their chicks weren’t getting the attention they needed to survive. The adults can be territorial due to limited habitat availability and busy beaches filled with people, dogs, and natural predators such as ghost crabs, crows, and herons.
The good news: This pair has re-nested so we are expecting more chicks to hatch in about a month! In addition, there are a total of four snowy plover chicks roaming the beach. The oldest is just under four weeks (pictured above) old and the youngest is a pair of two-week-old chicks. A two-and-a-half-week-old chick is pictured below. Snowy plover chicks take four to six weeks to fledge.
“That’s a long time for such a fragile bird, which is why we stress the importance of giving them space to forage and grow,” says SCCF Shorebird Intern Aaron White.
There also is a Wilson’s plover (Charadrius wilsonia) brood on the West End that still has all three chicks. They are four weeks old, and should soon be able to fly.
If you are observing territorial behavior among remaining broods, please maintain a safe distance of at least 100 feet. Giving them proper space is important so that they can return to their established territories and properly tend to their chicks. If you’re observing shorebirds in the presence of a predator, allow them plenty of space (especially laterally) so that they can retreat from the threat. 
If you’re out on the beach and happen to find a new snowy plover nest, please leave it undisturbed and contact SCCF at (813) 756-8773. Please email with any questions or concerns regarding our shorebirds. 
Photos by Shorebird Intern Aaron White


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