AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER – (Pluvialis dominica)
The American golden plover is a shorebird that is found inland on grassland, mudflats, golf courses and parks in addition to the expected ‘shore’ habitat of a typical plover. It is a long distance traveler for its migration, from its breeding grounds in the Arctic to its wintering grounds in South America. It flies south offshore in the fall, but inland when it comes back in the spring.
The American golden plover is around 26 cm (10 in.) long, and the male in breeding plumage has black under parts, and medium brown upper parts with mottled white. The black plumage is surrounded by a continuous white band starting on each side of the breast, going up towards the nape and ending up on the frontal part of the head above the bill. In non breeding plumage the black is replaced by grey-brown, and the white lining is almost indiscernible. The bill is short. Sexes are similar.
This bird was shot in the tens of thousands in the 19th century, and its population levels are still being impacted by those past hunting practices. New threats now include habitat loss in its wintering grounds.
American golden plovers have a mixed diet of invertebrates and vegetation such as seeds and berries.
SIMILAR SPECIES: The Pacific Golden Plover is so similar (photos and video below, in winter plumage) to the American golden plover that at some point the two birds were considered the same species. There’s also the European (or Eurasian) Golden Plover which is very similar too (photo below), and also the Black-bellied Plover, a non-breeding but very common species on Prince Edward Island.
The American golden plover does not breed on PEI and its sightings on the island range from ‘occasional’ to ‘very common’, depending on the seasons and the years of observation.
This Pacific golden plover was filmed in a busy area of Waikiki: