Christine Collier searches for snowy plovers


Abby N. Powell

Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit


Western snowy plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) were listed as federally threatened in 1993. Nesting habitat has been lost along the coast of Washington, Oregon and California. In southern California, the remaining suitable habitat is concentrated in San Diego County. We have color-banded snowy plovers breeding in southern California since 1994. Snowy plover reproductive success, survival, site fidelity, and movements within and among breeding sites in this region are being determined by our ongoing research.


Western snowy plovers winter along the coast of southern California. By conducting bimonthly censuses, we have found that approximately 30% of the plovers that breed in southern California remain here during winter months. Plovers from as far north as Oregon and Monterey Bay, California also overwinter here. Snowy plovers use a variety of sites for foraging and loafing, including mudflats of San Diego Bay and other coastal lagoons, and sandy beaches associated with river mouths and lagoons.


Powell, A. N., C. L. Collier, J. M. Terp, and B. Peterson. 2002. Status of breeding and wintering snowy plovers in San Diego County, California, 1994-1999. Journal Field Ornithology 73(2):156-165.

Powell, A. N. 2001. Habitat characteristics and nest success of snowy plovers associated with California least tern colonies. Condor 103:785-792.

Hothem, R. L. and A. N. Powell. 2000. Contaminants in eggs of western snowy plovers and California least terns: Is there a Link to Population Decline? Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 65 (1):42-50.

Powell, A. N. and C. L. Collier. 2000. Habitat use and reproductive success of western snowy plovers at new nesting areas created for California least terns. Journal of Wildlife Management 64:24-33.

Tucker, M. A. and A. N. Powell. 1999. Snowy plover diets in 1995 at a coastal southern California breeding site. Western Birds 3044-48

Powell, A. 1998. Western snowy plovers and California least terns. Pp. 629-631 in Mac, M. J., P. A. Opler, C. E. Puckett Haecker, and P. D. Doran (eds.) Status and trends of the nation's biological resources. 2 vols. U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA


Powell, A. N. 1999. Is nesting habitat created for least terns used by snowy plovers? Cooper Ornithological Society, Portland, OR

Powell, A. N. and C. L. Collier. 1998. Invasion of created habitats by snowy plovers. The Wildlife Society, Buffalo, NY

Hothem, R. and A. N. Powell. 1997. Contaminants in eggs of Western snowy plovers and California least terns from Southern California. SETAC, San Francisco, CA

Powell, A. N. and C. L. Collier. 1995. Migratory and winter distributions of western snowy plovers along the coast of southern California. Cooper Ornithological Society Meeting, 7 April 1995, La Paz, Mexico


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last update 11/11/02