This element will focus on the western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus), a small shorebird that roosts at Malibu Lagoon and is part of the Pacific Coast population. The Pacific Coast population of the western snowy plover was listed as federally threatened in 1993 under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Since then, population recovery status has been assessed annually through range-wide breeding and winter season surveys. In 2007, the Santa Monica Bay Audubon and Los Angeles Audubon Chapters, together with local biologists, agency staff and volunteers began a program to determine the winter and breeding status of the western snowy plover in Los Angeles County.
Major threats to the plovers include a lack of public awareness about them, regular disturbance or removal of their foraging resources, and mortality from predators drawn to the beach. This study will be an important tool for monitoring the presence and abundance of these precious birds and other birds commonly found at Malibu Lagoon.
The purpose of these surveys is to obtain an estimate of the number of wintering and breeding snowy plovers and determine year round beach use patterns at Malibu Lagoon, a known current wintering site for the species.
What will the students be doing?
- Students will use methods based on the 2009 Volunteer Survey Protocol from the Los Angeles Western Snowy Plover Study Group to record data on western snowy plovers, habitat, and other bird life at the lagoon.
- Results can then be compared across the population range and between years, to detect trends over time. Binoculars will be provided.