Land Bird Conservation Plan Colorado  

Overview of Colorado
Physiographic Region 36

  • Grasslands
  • Lowland Riparian
  • Shore/Bank
  • Wetlands

  • Physiographic Region 62
    Physiographic Region 87
    Implementation Strategies
    Literature Cited

    Physiographic Region 36: Central Shortgrass Prairie

    Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)

    Associated Species: Other species that may use habitat in a similar way and/or respond similarly to threats, management, and conservation activities include Piping Plover, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, and Least Tern.

    Distribution: Snowy Plovers breed along the West and Gulf coasts, throughout much of Nevada, southern Washington, northern Utah, southeastern Kansas, the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, and southeastern New Mexico. Within the Central Shortgrass Prairie in Colorado, they breed on the shores of reservoirs near the Arkansas River between La Junta and Lamar.

    Habitat Requirements: Snowy Plovers nest on sandy beaches or alkaline flats with little or no vegetation; nests are located within 150 m (500 ft) of water.

    Ecology: Snowy Plovers arrive in Colorado in mid April. They initiate nests as early as mid April and as late as early July; the later dates are probably renesting attempts after failed nests rather than second clutches after successful nests. Most birds have left the state by the end of September. The diet consists of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates.

    Management Issues and Conservation Recommendations: Snowy Plovers' nest sites and breeding success are sensitive to water levels, which are subject to management for irrigation and other uses. Integrate Snowy Plover nesting habitat needs into reservoir management plans.

    Nest depredation hampers productivity, but experimental predator exclosures failed to improve nest success rates, probably because they did not exclude smaller predators such as snakes and rodents. Humans and domestic animals can destroy nests. Establish area closures with fences and signs to restrict access within 150 m (500 ft) of known nest sites.

    Status and Reasons for Concern: This species has a high conservation need locally and throughout its range; fewer than 100 pairs nest in Colorado. This species is on the national Watch List, indicating a high conservation need throughout its range. Due to its small numbers and limited range, this species is not monitored by the BBS within Physiographic Area 36. This species is monitored by CDOW.

    Biological Objective: Increase the species' distribution and abundance, based on results of the CDOW or other monitoring programs.

    Selected References: Andrews and Righter 1992; Estelle and Mabee 1994, 1995; Kingery 1998; Page et al. 1995.

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