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Skunk Depredation

Ormond Beach, Oxnard California

Plover nest 62, found on July 10, 2023

We have been extremely fortunate during the 2023 nesting season that so few nests were lost to predators. In fact out of the 12 nests that failed, just 3 losses were due to predators (25%). Usually those statistics are flipped. This is probably why we've had such a banner year for nesting success.

We captured one depredation event on our trail cameras, a skunk that found and ate the eggs. This nocturnal predator causes a lot of damage to nesting plovers and, again, we are very lucky skunks didn't figure out nests until the very end of the breeding season.

This is trail camera video of the female and the nest while it was still active.

It was well hidden in cluster of pickle weed.

Here is the video from the night nest 62 was found by a skunk and the eggs eaten on site.

Left panel: when the nest was discovered on 7/14. Right panel: after the nest had been depredated by a skunk 7/26

Adult snowy plovers are very devoted to their nest site and return for several days after eggs are lost, and even sometimes after their nests have hatched. The female returned to the nest in this case as well, and it took her a couple days to move on. She has likely joined the growing flock of plovers at the tideline that have completed nesting and are recuperating from a long breeding season.

On a positive note, we believe this nest was likely a re-nesting attempt by a female from a nearby nest that successfully hatched on June 30th. There is currently a male with a fledgling age check nearby. It is not unusual for a female to re-nest near the site of her last successful nest. The two nests were just 100 feet apart. We wish this female a restful off-season and are glad that she has survived to nest again.

The skunk came back to re-check the nest 2 nights later.

This video gives us a clearer view of the skunk.


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