Piping Plover

Charadrius melodus

Summary 6

The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is a small sand-colored, sparrow-sized shorebird that nests and feeds along coastal sand and gravel beaches in North America. The adult has yellow-orange legs, a black band across the forehead from eye to eye, and a black ring around the neck. This chest band is usually thicker in males during the breeding season, and it's the only reliable way to tell the sexes apart. The bird is difficult to see when...

Taxon biology 7

The Piping Plover is a small, stocky, sandy-colored bird resembling a sandpiper that lives on the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Fully grown it will reach approximately seven to eight inches in height. The adult has a short and stout bill, yellow-orange legs, a black band across the forehead from eye to eye, and a black ring around the base of its neck. Males are often a bit brighter in their coloring than females. The Piping Plover runs in short starts and stops and when still blends easily into the sandy beaches where it feeds and nests. Because of this, it is often heard before it is seen, a plaintive bell-like whistle from which its name is derived. Plovers are foragers feeding on marine worms, crustaceans, and insects they gather from the sand.

After establishing their nesting territories and performing their courtship rituals, a pair of plovers will form a nest out of a shallow depression in the sand, sometimes lined with small stones or shell fragments. The pair lays a clutch of four well-camouflaged eggs which is incubated continuously as parents trade places, hatching in about 25 days. Chicks will fledge and learn to fly about 30 days after hatching. If the first clutch does not survive, the pair may try again, or separate and try again with a new mate, in the same season. These chicks may not fly until late August. At the end of the season plovers may congregate on undisturbed beaches in large groups of up to 100 before flying south in many small groups of about three to six. They may breed the first spring after hatching.

The Piping Plover lives along the Atlantic Coast from Newfoundland to North Carolina from late March till mid-September, when it migrates to more southern beaches ranging from North Carolina to Florida, some even traveling as far south as the Bahamas.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) David Maher, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://www.flickr.com/photos/63499271@N00/3516560229
  2. (c) Mdf, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5e/Charadrius-melodus-004.jpg/460px-Charadrius-melodus-004.jpg
  3. (c) gyrrlfalcon, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), uploaded by Jennifer Rycenga, http://www.inaturalist.org/photos/227095
  4. (c) maractwin, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), uploaded by Mark Rosenstein, http://www.inaturalist.org/photos/240531
  5. (c) Dimus, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), https://s.yimg.com/pw/images/en-us/photo_unavailable_l.png
  6. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charadrius_melodus
  7. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/13819039

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