The Beach


Ormond Beach

I recently attended a beach clean up at Ormond Beach. The first time I visited Ormond Beach was last year for an ornithology class. Ventura County is one of the best places to “bird” as it is home to many species of birds. It is also a nice rest spot for migrating birds. One reason Ormond Beach is a fantastic spot to bird at is the variety of habitats leading to the shore. There are miles of open farm fields nearby and wetlands as you approach the sandy beach. The diverse habitats house a variety of birds. One of the prettiest birds I have seen on my way to the shore is the Red-winged Blackbird. Last semester, my main mission at Ormond Beach was to spot a snowy plover. A long fence protected the snowy plover nesting grounds and several posts were decorated with handmade student-designed posters urging beach visitors to be cautious of snowy plover eggs and nests. Snowy Plover nests and eggs are extremely vulnerable to damage because they are located on the ground and blend in with the environment. One method snowy plovers use to construct nests involves the following: first, the male makes a depression in the ground using his body, then the male and female pick up debris with their bills and either toss them backward over their shoulder “or along side in one fluid motion” and continue dropping debris in scrape during incubation periods (Page et al., 2009).  Snowy plovers line their nests with a variety of materials/debris including: “2- to 10-mm-long pebbles, shell fragments, fish bones, mud chips, vegetation fragments, or invertebrate skeletons” (Page et al., 2009). The amount of glass pieces collected by beach clean up volunteers at Ormond Beach this semester was astounding. One volunteer exclaimed that we could make a sea glass table from all the glass debris found.

As we discussed in class, the western snowy plover is threatened and several are anthropogenic effects. One of the ways we can mitigate threats is to clean debris from our beaches. Additionally, there are many signs on various beaches in Ventura County prohibiting or restrictions of domestic dogs on the beach (many require dogs must be on leashes) which also helps reduce the interference/accidental destruction of nests or eggs. Last, there are signs spreading awareness of the threatened snowy plover as seen in the picture provided in this post. Ormond Beach is special to me because it is one of the first places I went birding on my own, outside of class. I truly appreciate that our community has shown dedication in keeping this snowy plover habitat clean and protected.

Page, G. W., L. E. Stenzel, J. S. Warriner, J. C. Warriner, & P. W. Paton (2009). Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.



  1. I have been to Ormond Beach several times to monitor the snowy plovers as well. I liked that you discussed the threat to snowy plover’s nests and eggs due to their location and color. I also liked that you discussed their methods in building their nests, the threat of domestic dogs on the beach, etc. Another thing that they are threatened by is sea level rise. Eventually they will run out of beach to lay their eggs, and will ultimately decrease their population.

  2. Contreras

    November 10, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    Sea level rise is a threat to snowy plovers, that is a great point especially because we have been discussing it in our class! I have never seen a snowy plover nest in-person or have been in the nesting grounds, I just observe from afar. It is really exciting that you have had the opportunity to monitor them. I’m glad that you liked the nest building portion of my post. I did not know that they collected various debris to place around their nest and this new information made me appreciate volunteer efforts even more. Hopefully all our efforts help improve their population.

  3. Wow! I have never been to Ormond Beach before, although I tried recently to visit, but did not get the approval to do so. I am so interested to see the beach for myself since I have heard very conflicting stories about it. On one hand I have heard that it is a very dirty and very littered beach that needs help and needs a hand cleaning it up, but on the other hand, I have heard that it is a beautiful protected beach and a very special place for organisms that call it home. I can only imagine what it really looks like. Your post though gives me hope that it really is a special place, especially for the snowy plovers. I really enjoyed the detail in which you spoke about them in their home at Ormond Beach. Thank you so much for this really great read!

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