Snowy Plovers Hatch At Aquarium

June 09, 2006

The birds will be featured in a new exhibit slated to open this summer

Two snowy plover chicks hatched at the Oregon Coast Aquarium last week and two additional eggs are doing well in the incubator. The snowy plover is a native shore bird that lives on the beach year-round. Recent counts indicate that only a total of about 150 birds remain on the entire coast of Oregon. The main reason for their declining population is loss of habitat. Snowy plovers need flat continuous areas of sand with no grass. They used to inhabit Oregon’s beaches up and down the coastline, but developments and beach grass have destroyed much of their habitat.

The baby chicks will be used to populate the new Snowy Plover exhibit, due to open this summer. Aquarium Curator of Birds, Karen Anderson said the electronic egg monitor indicated active chicks inside the eggs, and tiny clicks could be heard as the chicks pecked from the inside. Two more less developed eggs that showed vigorous activity on the egg monitor are in incubation. The two most advanced eggs wasted no time and hatched the next morning and the following morning. The two chicks are siblings, and are doing well together in their brooder. The remaining two eggs are doing well. “We can’t tell just when they will hatch, but the egg monitor shows major chick activity inside the eggs,” said Anderson.

In the meantime, final details are being finished up on the new snowy plover aviary. The chicks will eventually join two adult plovers in the dune-like habitat. The two adult birds are wild rescued birds with permanent injuries preventing them from being released. One is a snowy plover and the other is a more common semi-palmated plover that was taken in as a companion for the snowy.

The goal with the snowy plover exhibit is to introduce people to this remarkable bird and show how we can restore their dwindling population. “The birds do well when we give them a little room—they’re actually very hardy,” said Anderson, who has been involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of several other snowy plovers in the past two years. These are success stories that Anderson cites as the impetus for an on-going project to rescue and rehabilitate snowy plovers at the aquarium in the new Snowy Plover exhibit. The newly hatched birds will be given some time to adjust to their new home before the exhibit is opened to the public. Visual screening put up on the aviary will give them some privacy until they are ready for exposure to summer visitors later this summer.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium receives no on-going governmental support and relies on visitor-related revenues, grants, and donations to finance its annual operations, including its wildlife rehabilitation activities. Funding for these projects comes directly out of the money budgeted for the care of the Aquarium’s 15,000 marine animals. To help support the Aquarium’s rehabilitation efforts, please call (541) 867-3474 ext. 5228.