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American Golden-Plover


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A large shorebird of pastures, open ground, and mudflats, the American Golden-Plover makes one of the longest migratory journeys of any shorebird. It breeds on the high Arctic tundra of Alaska and Canada and winters in the grasslands of central and southern South America.

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Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Medium-sized to large shorebird.
  • Legs moderately long.
  • Neck short.
  • Bill short.
  • Head large and rounded.
  • Golden and black speckled back.
  • In breeding plumage, black from face to under tail.

Immature Description

Juvenile similar to winter adult, but with light barring on chest, sides, and flanks, and more distinct yellow edges and spots on feathers of crown, back, and wings.

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Field MarksHelp

  • Male breeding

    American Golden-Plover

    Male breeding
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, June 2000
  • Juvenile

    American Golden-Plover

    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ventura, California, October 2000
  • Juvenile

    American Golden-Plover

    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Jamaica Bay, New York, September 2000

Similar Species

  • Extremely similar to Pacific Golden-Plover. Breeding male Pacific has white stripe extending along sides from face to tail, but the stripe extends only from the face to the chest in American. Pacific has shorter wings and longer tertials that results in only three, not four primaries extending beyond the tertials. Wings extend just to tip of tail or just beyond. Pacific has slightly longer legs and bill. Pacific tends to be more golden on back in all plumages, but this is variable.
  • Black-bellied Plover is larger, with a larger bill, and has white rump, white stripe in wing, and dark armpits in all plumages. In breeding plumage back is gray and black, not golden, and black extends only to belly, leaving undertail white. Juvenile similar, but is more gray and less golden (although some can be very yellowish brown), and shows less of a dark cap.
  • Very rare European Golden-Plover is slightly larger, shorter winged, and has white, not gray, linings under the wings. In breeding plumage the European Golden-Plover has a complete white stripe down the side and white under the tail.
  • Mountain Plover is more plainly marked, without spots on back, and has dark tailband and white stripe on wings.