Skip to Content

Snowy Plover Life History


Habitat ShorelinesBarren 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.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesTerrestrial and aquatic invertebrates.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

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.

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:2-6 eggs
Number of Broods:1-3 broods
Egg Length:1.1-1.3 in (2.8-3.4 cm)
Egg Width:0.8-0.9 in (2.1-2.4 cm)
Incubation Period:26-33 days
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.
Back to top


Behavior Ground ForagerPauses, looks, runs, and then seizes prey from surface of beach or tide flat. Some probing in sand.Back to top


Conservation DecliningSnowy 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.Back to top


Andres, B. A., P. A. Smith, R. I. G. Morrison, C. L. Gratto-Trevor, S. C. Brown, and C. A. Friis (2012). Population estimates of North American shorebirds, 2012. Wader Study Group Bulletin 119:178–194.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. (2019). Longevity records of North American birds. Version 1019 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2019.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2014). The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Page, Gary W., Lynne E. Stenzel, J. S. Warriner, J. C. Warriner and P. W. Paton. (2009). Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

Back to top

Need Bird ID Help? Try Merlin

Close Merlin