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Black-bellied Plover


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A large shorebird of coastal beaches, the Black-bellied Plover is striking in its black-and-white breeding plumage. It is the largest plover in North America and can be found along the coasts in winter northward to Massachusetts and British Columbia.

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At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
11–11.4 in
28–29 cm
23.2–23.6 in
59–60 cm
5.6–9.8 oz
160–277 g
Other Names
  • Grey Plover (British)
  • Pluvier argenté (French)
  • Chorlito gris (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Wary and quick to give alarm calls, the Black-bellied Plover functions worldwide as a sentinel for mixed groups of shorebirds. These qualities allowed it to resist market hunters, and it remained common when populations of other species of similar size were devastated.
  • The Black-bellied Plover may be more sensitive to disturbance than many other birds because it is especially wary, flushing from the nest or feeding and roosing sites when potential predators are still far away. Nevertheless, no evidence exists for desertion of the nest or roost sites because of disturbance.
  • The Black-bellied Plover is the only American plover that has a hind toe on its foot. The hind toe, however, is so small that it is difficult to see in the field.



Nests in Arctic lowlands on dry tundra. Winters on coastal beaches and estuaries. May use flooded pasture and agricultural land.



Insects on breeding grounds. Invertebrates, primarily polychaetes (especially slender worms), bivalves, and crustaceans on wintering grounds.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–5 eggs
Egg Description
Pinkish, greenish, or brownish, with distinct dark spots heaviest around large end.
Condition at Hatching
Covered with down and able to walk soon after hatching. Feed themselves within one day.
Nest Description

Scrape in ground, lined with lichens, pebbles, twigs, or leaves.

Nest Placement



Ground Forager

Moves by stop-run-stop, or stop-run-peck, scanning and capturing prey at stops. Captures prey by single peck or series of pecks. Worms and clams sometimes shaken vigorously in shallow water near capture site to remove mud.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Populations appear stable.


  • Paulson, D. R. 1995. Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola). In The Birds of North America, No. 186 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists Union, Washington, D.C.

Range Map Help

Black-bellied Plover Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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All About Birds blog, First-Ever World Shorebirds Day Highlights Need for Conservation, September 5, 2014.