- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Charadriidae
An American Golden-Plover in breeding plumage, with its simple black-and-white body set off by shimmering gold-flecked wings, can rival any shorebird for sheer beauty. In the nonbreeding season they are a more subdued, speckled brown with a pale eyebrow. These trim, slender-billed shorebirds hunt in tundra, grasslands, and fields by running a short distance and then stopping abruptly to look for insects and other small prey. On their arctic breeding grounds, male American Golden-Plovers give a complex “butterfly” flight display accompanied by a rhythmic song.More ID Info
Find This Bird
For most North American birders, American Golden-Plovers are birds seen on migration, especially in the center of the continent. Look for them on prairie and farm fields; plowed or harvested potato fields and sod fields can attract large numbers of shorebirds including golden-plovers. Golden-plovers can easily disappear in a large field, so it’s a good idea to bring along (or borrow) a spotting scope to scan beyond binocular range. Look for this species’ petite bill, darker crown, and lack of black “armpits” to distinguish it from the similar Black-bellied Plover.
- Chorlito Dorado Americano (Spanish)
- Pluvier bronzé (French)
- Cool Facts
- The American Golden-Plover has a long migration route. In the fall, many fly offshore from the East Coast and don’t land until they reach South America. In spring, most pass through the middle of North America to reach the Arctic.
- With so much distance to cover, golden-plovers fly fast—studies using geolocators found the birds averaged 30+ mph and sometimes achieved ground speeds of over 80 mph during their long over-ocean flights.
- Like many shorebirds, adult American Golden-Plovers leave the Arctic in early summer, leaving their young behind. The juveniles (only a few months old) set off on migration in late summer or fall—finding their way to South America on their own.
- In the 19th and 20th centuries, colloquial names for the American Golden-Plover included bullhead, field plover, greenback, muddy-belly, and prairie pigeon.
- The oldest American Golden-Plover was at least 13 years old when it was recaptured and released during a banding operation in Alaska.