This small, white and grey shorebird is one of two recognized North American subspecies of the snowy plover. This bird is a permanent resident of the gulf coast, including Alabama and parts of the Florida panhandle. Cuban snowy plovers forage along the shoreline for soft invertebrates and insects. Plover chicks are resilient and are fully capable of leaving the nest, swimming, running and foraging almost immediately after hatching.
Cuban snowy plovers prefer the open beach and dune grass habitats of the Gulf coast. They require sparse vegetation to nest successfully.
As a beach nesting species, the Cuban snowy plover is extremely vulnerable to many threats that are common in coastal areas including habitat inundation from sea level rise. Cuban snowy plover nests on the open beach are easily destroyed by extreme weather events, human disturbance and predation, all of which are likely to increase as climate change accelerates. Given the hazardous conditions to which they are accustomed, it is not uncommon for these birds to start over with new nests up to six times per season. However, an especially bad year or a severe storm event late in the season can destroy plover clutches for the year, negatively impacting the bird’s already small population. Habitat fragmentation stemming from changes in coastal development patterns linked to climate change is also likely to be a concern for this species.
More information about general climate impacts to species in Florida.
The overall vulnerability level was based on the following assessment(s):
The primary factors contributing to vulnerability of the snowy plover are sea level rise, erosion, presence of barriers, minimal habitat protection, habitat fragmentation, runoff and storm surge, alterations to biotic interactions, and synergies with development. Biotic interactions that could impact this species include increased invasive plants, particularly grasses - impacting habitat suitability, and increased numbers/populations of fire ants, rats, and domestic cats - impacting reproductive success and survival.