Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding visitors to John Martin, Adobe Creek and Nee Gronda Reservoirs this Memorial Day weekend to keep an eye out for rare least terns and piping plovers, who are nesting this time of year.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding visitors to John Martin, Adobe Creek and Nee Gronda Reservoirs this Memorial Day weekend to keep an eye out for rare least terns and piping plovers, who are nesting this time of year.

As in previous years, parks and wildlife managers have closed access to some shoreline areas to protect the nests of the two rare shorebirds. The closures started in April and will run through mid-August. Closures can range from .2 to 15 acres in size, but still leave a majority of the shoreline open to recreation.

"We still want people to come out and enjoy the holiday weekend, we just want them to be informed and to help keep an eye out for their hard-to-see nest scrapes and eggs," said Ed Schmal, conservation biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The least tern is a small, swallow-like bird with black outer wing feathers that is sometimes seen diving head-first into the water after fish. The smallest of the North American terns, it can be identified by its distinctive black crown, white forehead and black-tipped yellow bill. The federal government has designated the least tern as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

The piping plover is a tiny shorebird with pale brown plumage and a black bar across the forehead. Piping plovers typically nest on sandy lakeshore beaches or on river sandbars that are free of vegetation, relying on their cryptic coloration as camouflage from predators. The Piping plover is listed as a federally threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Protecting nesting areas along recreational shorelines is the most effective way to support the recovery of least tern and piping plover populations, biologists say. In Colorado, the least tern and piping plover are found only in the southeast part of the state. They can also be found in other states with adequate shore nesting habitat.

Schmal said that closed areas will be marked off with temporary fencing and orange bailing twine. Physically disturbing a closed area, allowing dogs to run off leash or violating road closures can result in citations for offenders. Areas around the reservoirs are regularly patrolled by rangers and wildlife managers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. A pamphlet and a map explaining the closure areas is available at the John Martin Reservoir State Park entrance station and volunteers will be working to educate visitors about the protections that are in place. Additionally, a map showing the current closures will be posted at the information kiosk on the south side of the dam.

John Martin Reservoir State Park is located in Bent County, near the town of Las Animas. John Martin Reservoir provides camping, boating, water skiing and wind water-sport activities as well as fishing for walleye, bass, yellow perch, crappie and catfish. A state parks pass is required for entry.

Adobe Creek Reservoir, also known as Blue Lake, straddles the Kiowa-Bent county line and is surrounded by the Adobe Creek Reservoir State Wildlife Area. In addition to boating and camping, Adobe Creek Reservoir offers anglers the opportunity to fish for walleye, crappie, tiger muskie, bass and blue gill.

Anyone interested in volunteering to protect nesting shorebird sites or to educate summer visitors about the birds is encouraged to contact Jena Sanchez, Volunteer Coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Colorado Springs at (719) 227-5204 or at jena.sanchez@state.co.us.

Information about John Martin Reservoir State Park can be found online at http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/JohnMartinReservoir/Pages/default.aspx.