Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version

Summer 7-30-2020


Ostrom BL, Caven AJ, Malzahn JM, and Vogel A. (2020) Snowy Plover Activity in the Central Platte River Valley in May 2019. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, 40, pp 24-29.

doi: 10.32873/unl.dc.tnas.40.4


Copyright 2020 by the authors.


During five of eight site visits between 14 and 27 May 2019 we detected up to four Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) in the Central Platte River Valley (CPRV) near Mormon Island, Hall County, Nebraska, and recorded their behavior using an instantaneous scan sampling approach. We recorded loafing (47%), foraging (43%), mating (4%), flying (4%), and external threat (1%) related behavior. Most notably, we documented a copulation event on 23 May. During the 10-day span from 14 to 23 May when Snowy Plovers were detected, river stage and discharge were near median levels, but from 23 to 27 May river discharge more than doubled and gage height increased by over 20%. This resulted in sandbar habitat becoming submerged and the Snowy Plovers vacating the site. This observation illustrates how wide variation in late spring flows can preclude potential breeding by ground nesting waterbirds in the CPRV given the current limited availability of unvegetated sandbars significantly exceeding flood stage. This represents a notable late-spring stay length in the CPRV with behavior suggestive of the potential for local breeding.