Rescue and Release of a Snowy Plover in Ensenada

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By Jonathan Vargas  / Bird Conservation Projects Associate of Terra Peninsular and fellow of the Coastal Solutions Program of Cornell Lab of Ornithology

This article was translated by Oscar Gómez

On Friday, August 2nd of 2019, during the monitoring of snowy plover and least tern at the Punta Banda sandbar, our friend Álvaro San Jose, as well as Aurelio Álvarez, and Jorge Sánchez of the San Diego Zoo, found a male snowy plover in serious health condition.

The snowy plover was very weak and had a strong molt of his flight feathers, so we notified immediately to the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA, for its acronym in Spanish), who gave us instructions to safeguard him and then to receive treatment. Once back in the office, we took the snowy plover to the Rico veterinary, where immediately received antibiotics and vitamins to prevent any disease and to make him feel better. That night the snowy plover was kept under observation by the veterinarian.

The next day we went to the veterinarian to see its progress, however the snowy plover showed no improvement, so we gave it to our friends of Contacto Salvaje wildlife refuge, who immediately began to give him medical attention. That same day, during our daily bird monitoring, we collected some of his natural food found on the beach (small invertebrates) then, we gave them to the Contacto Salvaje shelter, and they prepared a mashed potatoes mixture to feed him.

Marco Antonio Damián Martínez of Contacto Salvaje took care of him all the weekend and he informed us early in the morning on Monday, that the snowy plover was in a better health conditions and much more active, despite having lost a few grams of weight. We went to the shelter immediately to evaluate him and finally, to take the decision to release him, not before placing him a transmitter to know his location in the future.

Finally, we released the snowy plover in the temporary protection fence of Pacifica at El Ciprés beach, where the snowy plover immediately headed towards the shore to feed on small invertebrates as they normally do. His behavior made us felt joy, the fact that he began to feed by himself was a good signal, because this way he will be recovered quickly. We had a great experience and we will be waiting for his return in the next season.

Special thanks to the San Diego Zoo for the field support, to the Rico veterinary for the attention and first aids, and to Marco Antonio Damián Martínez of Contacto Salvaje for his help in the rehabilitation and care of the snowy plover that we called Majestic.

Also, this would not have been possible without the help of the Coastal Solutions Fellow Program of Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Terra Peninsular A.C.

Additional partners: ZOFEMAT, Pacífica at Ensenada Bay, Ecología Municipal, SPA, CICESE, UABCS, UABC, Campo Militar del Ciprés, Contacto Salvaje, Ellos Son La Razón, SJV, Grupo Aves del Noroeste, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, CHORLNEV, RHRAP, and PAU Ensenada.