West Coast
Western Snowy Plovers, Least Terns and other shore-nesting birds may benefit from relatively empty beaches during COVID-19 restrictions. (San Diego Union Tribune)

CA - With fewer people on the beach, shorebirds may spread their wings

If you head to the beach this weekend, keep your eyes open; along with recently cooped-up quarantiners, you may encounter other coastal dwellers who have ventured into new territory during the closures.

Shorebirds, including endangered Least Terns and threatened Snowy Plovers, may benefit from the hiatus in human presence on San Diego County’s shoreline. It’s migration and nesting season, so birds are at the peak of activity, and some may spread out to unoccupied beaches.

“The least terns are arriving now, they’re just getting to all the nesting sites,” said Kevin Clark, director of biological services at the San Diego Natural History Museum. “They really want to nest in beaches, but normally can’t. It will be interesting to see where they nest, if they have all this empty real estate if the beaches are closed.”

Sue Smith, a research fishery biologist and expert birder, said the COVID-19 closures haven’t left much opportunity for bird watching. But on one rare, recent outing in March, she spotted something new at Del Mar Dog Beach, where canine visitors normally rule the roost.

Read the full story here.