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Snowy Plover Nesting Season Means Restrictions on Some Parts of Oregon Coast

Published 03/30/23 at 6:55 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Snowy Plover Nesting Season Means Restrictions on Some Parts of Oregon Coast

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(Oregon Coast) – Oregon coast officials want to remind the public that right now through September 15 is snowy plover nesting season, and to respect the restrictions on some beaches. Put in place by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the two agencies say this can be an opportunity for visitors to help in the recovery efforts of this distinctive bird. (Snowy plover photos courtesy USFS)

A handful of beaches on the Oregon coast contain nesting areas of the western snowy plover, and those sensitive areas will be either roped off or contain signs that display rules and limits of the area. Some beaches require staying on wet sand and keeping away from the higher edges of the foredunes or dry sands. They place their delicate nests there, leaving them exposed during a crucial stage in their life cycle.

This means human foot traffic and horses must stay below the high-tide line and keep to wet, packed sands. This keeps their nests out of harms way and allows the chicks to incubate and hatch in safety. Meanwhile, other forms of recreation are prohibited in these marked areas, such as walking dogs (even on leashes), any off-road vehicle, camping, burning, bicycling, flying kites and operating drones. These are not allowed on the entire beach within the nesting range.

Restriced beaches on the north Oregon coast are many of the spits there, including Clatsop Spit, Nehalem Spit, Bayocean Spit, Netarts Spit and South Sand Lake Spit near Pacific City. These are mostly quite remote.

There are none in Lincoln County.

Bandon: courtesy OPRD

Near Florence, there's the Sutton / Baker Beach area.

On the Oregon National Dunes Recreation Area into the south Oregon coast, Tenmile, Siltcoos / Dunes / Tahkenitch and the Tahkenitch South areas are nesting spots, along with the North Jetty of the Umpqua River near Reedsport, and the Coos Bay North Spit. Farther south, there's Bandon, the New River area, Elk River and Euchre River in Curry County.

Altogether, these areas with extra rules comprise a mere 40 miles out of Oregon's 362 miles of beaches. There are still hundreds of miles of beaches for visitors to engage with.

“These small birds nest on open sand along Oregon’s beaches,” said OPRD. “Nests, and especially chicks, are well-camouflaged. During the nesting season, human disturbances can flush adult plovers away from their nests as they attempt to defend their young. Left alone too long, or too often, eggs or chicks can die from exposure, predators or people.”

Cindy Burns, Siuslaw National Forest wildlife biologist said Oregon wildlife officials have made considerable progress in the recovery of the western snowy plover. There's still plenty to be done, however. See more at

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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