BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER – (Pluvialis squatarola)
The Black-bellied plover, also called Grey plover, is easy to identify for a male in breeding plumage. As the name indicates the belly (upper part of) is black, as well as the throat and breast. The lower belly is white, and there is also a white band bordering the upper black parts. The back and wings are spotted white and black. In non-breeding plumage however, the black plumage of the male is replaced by white with grey streaks. Females are similar to the non-breeding male. The legs are relatively long but the bill and neck are short. At approximately 30 cm (12 in.) long, the black-bellied plover is the largest plover in North America.
The name ‘plover’ comes from the latin ‘pluvia’ – rain. It was thought that these birds were somehow associated with rain. Plovers are shorebirds that feed on crustaceans and insects. This bird is easily alarmed, which helped to save him from hunters. However, being more sensitive to disturbance the black-bellied plover will flee its nest more frequently than other species, but this behavior does not seem to impact its population levels (so far).
The black-bellied plover is very common in PEI but does not breed on the island. It nests in the Arctic on the tundra. The black-bellied plover is a long distance migratory bird and winters in coastal areas.