The rare, tiny western snowy plover is nesting on Los Angeles County beaches for the first time in nearly 70 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday.
A nest built by the threatened small shorebird — which is about the size of a sparrow — was found on April 18 on Santa Monica State Beach, followed by the discovery of a nest on Dockweiler State Beach on April 27, and two nests on Malibu Lagoon State Beach on April 28 and May 4.
Wildlife service biologists installed small wire cages around each nest to protect the eggs from predators and human disturbance.
The nests were discovered by monitors with Los Angeles Audubon and The Bay Foundation.
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"This is a sign that, against all odds, western snowy plovers are making a comeback, and we really need the cooperation of beachgoers to help give them the space they need to nest and raise their young," said senior fish and wildlife biologist Chris Dellith of the Fish and Wildlife Service office in Ventura.
"I'm hopeful that we can find a balance between beach recreation and habitat restoration, which will allow humans and shorebirds like the western snowy plover to peacefully exist along our coastline," Dellith said.
While the Santa Monica State Beach nest was lost as a result of high winds and one of the Malibu Lagoon State Beach nests was lost for unknown reasons, the remaining two nests remain viable.
Although western snowy plovers use beaches in Los Angeles County for roosting during the winter, the last documented active nest in the county was in 1949 at Manhattan Beach.