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Wilson's Plover Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    A sturdy, medium-sized shorebird with a heavy bill for a plover. It has fairly long legs, large eyes, and a rather large head.

    Relative Size

    Larger than a Semipalmated Plover, smaller than a Killdeer.

    Relative Sizebetween sparrow and robinbetween sparrow and robin

    • Both Sexes

Regional Differences

Ornithologists recognize four subspecies, which differ in head pattern, breast band, and color of upperparts. The subspecies wilsonia is the only one that breeds in the United States; it also occurs south to Belize and into the Caribbean. The more rufous-tinted cinnamominus inhabits the southern Caribbean, while the heavy-billed crassirostris is resident in Brazil. Along Pacific shores from Mexico to Peru, beldingi is the breeding subspecies, similar to cinnamominus but with a different head pattern and broader breast band.