Sunday, October 24, 2010
The Snowy Plover in Galveston
When I was at the beach the other day, I found myself thinking about Leaf Lady Gail's post on the Snowy Plover. So, I came home and did some research.
Here's a website for The International Snowy Plover Survey. Apparently, this endangered bird's statistics are well documented along the Pacific coast where Gail lives, and now scientists are using those methods to study the Gulf Coast and Mexico where their numbers are thought to be declining also.
I see Snowy Plovers all the time, and never realized they were endangered. The book Bird Life of Houston, Galveston, and the Upper Texas Coast says that the only nesting evidence of these birds here are the fledglings sighted with their parents. No one has actually seen a nest. A 2004 Census counted 491 pairs along the Texas Coast. Counting these little guys seems to be difficult because of the constant changing of their habitat.
They like to nest in dry dunes near the tidal flats where they feed. This picture was taken at the east end of the island along the Houston ship channel, which is considered a bird sanctuary because of all the tidal sand flats and pools.
Hurricanes wipe out huge sections of these flats, washing the sand into the Houston ship channel.
Then we dredge up the sand from the bottom of the ship channel to rebuild the beaches. This is a section of East Beach that is just before the tidal flats. There was a sign saying that they're rebuilding it for sea turtles and endangered birds.
Here's a view of the reconstruction of East Beach from the tidal flats. The ship channel is to the left. The Gulf is straight ahead on the other side of the dunes.
It will probably take a while for the tidal flats to reform. Each time I go, they seem to be growing. I wasn't able to find a more current census to see if the population is declining. The 2004 Census was supposed to be a baseline for future reference.