On Our Way Up
Snowy Plovers are a sensitive species and are very close to being on the Endangered Species list. The Blanca Wetlands is the largest breeding site for Snowy Plovers in the state of Colorado. During the field season of 2011, hundreds of Snowy Plovers were counted at the Blanca Wetlands. Sadly, these numbers plummeted in 2012. During the 2012 field season we only counted a total of about 20 Snowy Plovers! These numbers only continued to drop. The wildlife biologists in charge of the Wetlands program were not sure why we were seeing such a dramatic decrease in Snowy Plovers. We were not sure if this was only a site specific problem or if other areas were also noticing large decreases in snowy numbers.
This proved to be a very difficult question to try and answer, given that the Blanca Wetlands is the only place in southern Colorado that conducts snowy surveys. We called different areas that are also part of the central flyway to try to answer some of our questions, but we had very little luck. We tried different site specific changes, such as creating more viable habitat for Snowy Plovers, but we were unsuccessful; that is, until this year!
For the first time since 2011, we are starting to see an increase in Snowy Plover numbers at the Blanca Wetlands. We conducted our first Snowy Plover survey of the season and we counted 22 adults, 5 chicks, and a nest with 1 egg in it! I know that these are not really large numbers, but it is an increase from last year. I am very excited to participate in our next survey and find out if we have a greater increase in numbers.