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Snowy Plover

Charadrius nivosus ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: CHARADRIIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A small plover of beaches and barren ground, the Snowy Plover can be found across North and South America, Eurasia, and Africa. In North America it is restricted to the Gulf and Pacific coasts of the United States, and scattered inland localities from Saskatchewan to California and Texas.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
5.9–6.7 in
15–17 cm
Wingspan
13.4 in
34 cm
Weight
1.2–2 oz
34–58 g
Other Names
  • Kentish Plover (British English)
  • Gravelot à collier interrompu (French)
  • Chorlitejo patinegro (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Snowy Plover frequently raises two broods a year, and sometimes three in places where the breeding season is long. The female deserts her mate and brood about the time the chicks hatch and initiates a new breeding attempt with a different male.
  • Young Snowy Plovers leave their nest within three hours of hatching. They flatten themselves on the ground when a parent signals the approach of people or potential predators. They walk, run, and swim well and forage unassisted by parents, but require periodic brooding for many days after hatching.
  • The oldest recorded Snowy Plover was at least 15 years, 2 months old, when it was spotted in the wild in California and identified by its band.

Habitat


Shore-line

Barren to sparsely vegetated sand beaches, dry salt flats in lagoons, dredge spoils deposited on beach or dune habitat, levees and flats at salt-evaporation ponds, river bars, along alkaline or saline lakes, reservoirs, and ponds.

Food


Insects

Terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–6 eggs
Egg Description
Buffy background, lightly to moderately covered with small spots and scrawls.
Condition at Hatching
Downy and active, able to leave nest as soon as down dries.
Nest Description

A natural or scraped depression on dry ground usually lined with pebbles, shell fragments, fish bones, mud chips, vegetation fragments, or invertebrate skeletons.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Ground Forager

Pauses, looks, runs, and then seizes prey from surface of beach or tide flat. Some probing in sand.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Snowy Plover populations are declining. A 2012 study estimates a total population of 2,900 on the Pacific coast, and 25,900 in the interior and eastern coasts of North America. Snowy Plover are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, and the Pacific coast population is listed as threatened in the U.S. and Mexico, and is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action. The species is also listed as endangered or threatened in several states. Breeding populations have likely decreased on Gulf Coast since late 1800s owing to habitat alteration and increased recreational use of beaches.

Credits

Range Map Help

Snowy Plover Range Map
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