Snowy Plover Patrol Training Now Online

March 27, 2020

The nesting season for the endangered Western Snowy Plover is due to begin in Oregon, and in an ordinary year the Snowy Plover Patrol would be about to start monitoring sites on the north coast again.  In this unique year, though, with coronavirus precautions in place, the in-person training sessions (which had been scheduled for April 4 and 18) have been cancelled, and official monitoring can’t begin until the current closure of Oregon state parks comes to an end. The hope is that it will be possible for volunteers to get started in May.  At this point, no one can be sure—but meanwhile, potential volunteers can learn about the project and prepare to get involved through online webinars.

Portland Audubon partners with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department in the Snowy Plover Patrol project, through which volunteers monitor for Snowy Plovers at four sites on the north coast (from Clatsop Spit in Astoria to Sitka Sedge State Park beach near Pacific City), usually starting in April and continuing through the summer.  Volunteers in the project will typically perform surveys twice a month but can do fewer if needed. Surveys will take 2-4 hours (depending on the site).  Some sites will require a fair amount of walking on sandy beach habitat.

In lieu of physical training sessions, online webinars are offered for the classroom portion of the Snowy Plover training. This series is broken into four modules. They cover all relevant topics needed to understand snowy plovers and what we can do to help them.  The original, online presentations have already taken place, but the webinars have been recorded.  Check the Portland Audubon website,, to learn about their availability.

As of now, two of the modules are up:

New volunteers for the Snowy Plover Patrol must take Modules 1-4 to meet the requirements for the permit under the Endangered Species Act that allows us to survey for this threatened species. While not mandatory for returning volunteers, they will be very beneficial for touching up on Snowy Plover knowledge. There will be a recap and quiz at the end.  CoastWatchers could attend to learn more about how to watch for plovers on their miles, even if not participating in a formal survey.  The webinars are free and open to all.

Module 1: What Is a Plover, Anyway?

Content covers: Snowy Plover Identification, Similar Species, Life History, Habitat, Behavior, Threats, and Decline.

Module 2: A Species at Risk

Content covers: Understanding the Endangered Species Act, Legal Status, Management Strategies, and Recovery.

Module 3: Feet on the Beach

Content covers: Survey Protocol, Tips, Data Collection, Beach Safet

Module 4: Armchair Survey

Content covers: Beach Simulation, Recap, Quiz

You can take each module as often as you wish.

For more information, contact Joe Liebezeit at [email protected].