Each year from March through September, tiny western snowy plover chicks appear on beaches along California's coast. Once numbering in the thousands, the U.S. Pacific coast population of these plovers was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1993 due to habitat destruction, loss of nesting areas and damage from non-native and native predators.

Snowy plover chicks

We work with local and regional parks and avian conservation groups to rescue abandoned, threatened or damaged eggs, chicks and adults during the breeding season. Since we began our plover rehabilitation program in 2000, we have successfully released 135 birds and counting.

In addition, our husbandry aviculture team has helped rescue and rehabilitate other shorebird species, such as sandpipers and killdeers, with the SPCA of Monterey County.

The expertise and experience of our aviculture staff proved vitally important in the response to two California oil spills. The November 2007 accident involving the M/V Cosco Busan in San Francisco Bay affected seabirds in central and northern California and a "mystery spill" involved seabirds in Monterey Bay. Working with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, our team cared for sick and oiled birds, preparing them for the long and stressful washing process by stabilizing them with fluids and food to help them gain the strength needed to survive.