Skip to main content

Wilson's Plover Identification

Looking for ID Help?

Our free app offers quick ID help with global coverage.

Try Merlin Bird ID

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
      • Length: 6.3-7.9 in (16-20 cm)
      • Weight: 1.9-2.5 oz (55-70 g)

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.