SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --Every year, thousands of people swarm the coast for the holiday weekend and as usual, warnings are out on everything from alcohol to fireworks. But this year, there's another warning out. A tiny threatened bird and its chicks are being protected from our holiday revelry.
Up and down the coast, tens of thousands of people will gather to watch the fireworks but they better be careful because they could be trampling on the grounds of a very precious tiny little bird.
ABC7 News set out Friday morning in search of the Western Snowy Plover, out to the coastline, near their dunes, but wait... "People should not be climbing in the dunes. The dunes are a protected area," Alexandra Picavet said.
There are times when it's a little less fun to work for the National Park Service. For Picavet, this would be one of them. "Excuse me ma'am. Are you going into the dunes?" she asked a woman Friday.
The National Park Service has restricted dunes from camping and dogs without leashes from July 1 to May 15 at Ocean Beach, Crissy Field and Point Reyes, all to protect a threatened 6-inch bird that travels from Washington State to Baja California, and uses those areas for nesting and resting.
Only 2,800 Western Snowy Plovers remain from a once thriving population. "It's a very rare and a special moment to see a Snowy Plover in its habitat. I know people who have worked here for 10, 12 years and they've never seen one," Picavet said.
Nor do people see the signs, apparently. At Crissy Field, Eric Williams of Petaluma, his wife Jennifer and their four kids walked directly along the edge of one protected area, unaware. "Nope, nope, didn't see any signs or anything," Jennifer said.
Asked if he would know a Western Snowy Plover if he saw one, Williams said, "Probably not."
With patience, maybe someday, he'll have the opportunity.