During the northern summer, the Tuli (Pluvialis fulva) or Golden Plover nests in Alaska and northern Canada. But when the northern days grow shorter and colder, the birds migrate to Polynesia for the greatest of all animal journeys. From gathering places on the coasts of Alaska, the tuli take off to fly non-stop over 3,000 miles of open-ocean to the Hawaiian Islands. These birds cannot land on the water and take a rest―their feathers are not waterproof, so if they land in the water, they drown. After a well-earned rest in Hawaii, the tuli take off again for another flight over thousands of miles of ocean to reach the Samoan Archipelago. These birds arrive in September and then return north in April.
The Pacific Golden Plover can reach a height of 23 cm and is often seen on the beaches, but even more commonly can be found searching for food on the short grass of the village malae, parks, the golf course, and the airport. It feeds on insects, crustaceans, and worms. Although this plover is plain brown during most of its stay in American Samoa, it gets a beautiful new set of feathers just before it heads north: a golden-spangled back and jet black underparts. During flight, it is fast and direct with strong regular wingbeats. And it can also be identified by its two or three-syllable whistle, with emphasis on the last note to-lee; usually given singly or twice, either at rest or on rising.
Watling, Dick and Kelly, Chloe Talbot. 2001. A Guide to the Birds of Fiji & Western Polynesia. Environmental Consultants (Fiji) Ltd. Fiji.
The Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) is a medium-sized plover.