- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Charadriidae
The cheerful whistle of a Semipalmated Plover coursing over a mudflat or picking through a plowed field is often the first sign that these small shorebirds are present. They look like miniature Killdeer, but with only one black band across the breast. Their brown backs blend especially well with dark backgrounds, but their run-and-stop foraging style helps to pick them out. These alert foragers tend to stick to mudflats, sandbars, and fields rather than steep or rocky beaches.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for this arctic-breeding bird during migration, when it can show up almost anywhere across North America—in habitats as varied as coastal mudflats, shallow ponds, and even muddy farm fields. They often forage with other shorebird species, so keep an eye out for their stubby bills and stop-and-go feeding style. Birders in North America occasionally find the very similar but much rarer Common Ringed Plover; listen for its poo-eet call that lacks the Semipalmated's rising quality at the end.
- Chorlitejo semipalmeado (Spanish)
- Pluvier semipalmé (French)
- Cool Facts
- Given their remote Arctic breeding range, it's surprising that Semipalmated Plovers sometimes nest in busy, built-up areas. In Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, pairs have nested on roofs and even inside a large open building. They also nest at times on active gravel runways.
- Semipalmated Plovers can swim short distances across small water channels during foraging. Chicks can also swim short distances to follow parents to small islets on shallow lakes.
- The oldest recorded Semipalmated Plover was at least 9 years, 2 months old when it was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in Massachusetts in 1982. It had been banded in the same state in 1974.