Summer is practically here and with the warm weather comes more opportunities to engage with the public about everything bird related and about the Siuslaw National Forest. It also means more time out in the field to check on our Western Snowy Plover friends. Last week was my first time back on the plover designated nesting areas to see if there were any plover chicks or a new nest. It was great to walk on the beach again and feel the cool coastal breeze on my face but the best part was actually finding a pair of Western Snowy Plovers. It was exciting for many reasons but mostly because we do not know if the eggs in the last nest hatched or not. Our hope is that the nest was successful and that dad moved the chicks away. However, we are hoping this pair of snowy plovers might soon make a nest as the busy beach season starts to pick up. It is so fascinating to see how well they camouflage against the sand but even then they can still be disturbed by dogs roaming around without a leach or a group of corvids (ravens, crows, jays, etc.) that follow people in case they drop a treat for them to snack on.
This is where awareness comes into play. The role of a pet owner or beach goer is crucial in removing this species of plover from the USFWS Endangered Species Act. Engaging with the public in a fun and informative way creates such awareness, and what better way to engage the public about bird conservation than at a World Migratory Bird Day event at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center. I spent my weekend along with the other EFTA interns teaching the public about the Western Snowy Plover, their conservation status, and why they are important indicator species in beach and coastal dune ecosystems. The wonderful event, organized by the EFTA interns at Cape Perpetua included a coloring station, build your own snowy plover, bird collision station, and bird beak adaptations. It was wonderful to see all the Oregon EFTA interns together again to make the bird day event a huge success! Of course, we could not have done it without the help of the Student Conservation Association interns and the field rangers at the Cape. Another week as an EFTA intern in the Siuslaw Forest concludes again with field work, education, and having lots of fun with the people I work with!