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American Golden-Plover

Pluvialis dominica ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: CHARADRIIDAE

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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Appearance

Shorebirds
Shorebirds
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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American Golden-Plover Range Map
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Field MarksHelp

  • Breeding male

    American Golden-Plover

    Breeding male
  • Adult

    American Golden-Plover

    Adult
  • Juvenile

    American Golden-Plover

    Juvenile
    • © Matt Bango, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, September 2011
  • Juvenile

    American Golden-Plover

    Juvenile
    • © B.N. Singh, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, September 2013

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.