Starting in 2017, some very special Western Snowy Plovers were uniquely marked with green alphanumeric flags. They were part of a pilot study using these types of markers on plovers on the Pacific Coast. The markers are relatively easy to read and photograph by observers, and for researchers, the markers add hundreds of new combinations so that we can continue to uniquely band these birds.
The collaborative study is being led by the San Diego Zoo PC Birds team, working with the USFWS, CDFWS, USGS Bird Banding Lab, Naval Base Coronado, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, SeaWorld San Diego, and other partners.
For the first step, we teamed up with SeaWorld and the Navy; rescued plover eggs (orphaned or at risk of loss) can be captive-reared, and fledglings can be released back near natal sites where they may be safe. As birds in captivity are under ever-watchful eyes, this provided an opportunity to check on chicks even more
In 2018, we continue our flag trials, now in the field. Visit us again soon for updates! Your reported bands and photos (link here) will help us track plovers better. Thank you!