This week, I was able to go with the wildlife team to do a western snowy plover count at Nehalem Bay State Park. This was the first time I was able to see a western snowy plover and I could not have been more excited! This beach is one of the many along the coast that has restrictions for the public including only being able to walk on the wet sand and not bringing pets to that side of the beach. These rules are extremely important in order to protect the plovers from being scared away from their nests since that is their defense strategy. Rather than staying on their nests, the plovers will run away from the nest and pretend to be injured to get the predators to follow them instead. This, however, can lead to the eggs being lost in the sand or being left in the open for too long so they are no longer viable.
Although none of the eggs had hatched, we did get to see some male plovers looking for food and a female plover run directly back to her nest and sit back down on her eggs. I really appreciated getting to see the western snowy plover’s behavior in real life so that I could have more personal experiences to share with people when I do presentations in the future.
Later in the week, I got to be part of a fish salvage that happened at North Creek! The culvert that was put in many years ago was being removed and the wildlife that was found before a certain point in the creek was moved downstream. Something very special that happens at the Hebo Ranger District is that the Northwest Youth Corps has the opportunity to work with the different departments of the Forest Service and I got lucky enough to work with them! These students are extremely hardworking and passionate about what they do. This experience was amazing because we got to see the process of the culvert being taken out and getting to see the different species that lived in the creek and their importance.
Another really exciting thing I was able to be part of was a tabling event at the Oregon Coast Aquarium! Along with another EFTA intern, Yselia and an SCA intern, Darielle, we were able to speak to the visitors of the aquarium about the different threatened birds we have in the Siuslaw National Forest. Our table focused on the western snowy plover and the marbled murrelet. We discussed the nesting strategies of these birds, their general lifecycles, and some of the threats they are facing–a big one being corvids. It is important for the public to know that they have a huge impact when it comes to corvids since this family of birds is known for their intelligence and consumption of human food waste. Corvids have been found to be smart enough to follow people while hiking or camping to wait for food waste to be left behind to eat. By having this extra food source, the corvid populations increase meaning there are more around to hunt for the eggs and chicks of both the western snowy plover and the marbled murrelet. One of the main messages we have been sharing this summer is to leave no trace behind in order to help keep corvid populations down and to protect threatened birds. Being able to table at the aquarium was great because many people were drawn to their new “Seapunk” exhibit so we were able to reach a lot of people and spread this message!
Along with the new exhibit, the aquarium has the Seabird Aviary where they have interpretive talks while the birds are being fed. They even have a pelican presentation where they discussed how their brown pelican Jojo was saved after a shoulder injury and deemed non-releasable since she could no longer fly long distances. Something I was really excited about was that they gave Jojo the choice of doing this presentation, meaning she was free to return to her private enclosure at any time–and she did! After a couple of minutes of showing us some of her training, she decided she was done performing for the day, which the trainers and audience completely respected.