Photo Credit: David Dortch
Photo Credit: Terry Hartley
Due South Photography
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Charadrius nivosus Linnaeus
OTHER NAMES: Beach Plover, Snowy Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover (Page 1995).
STATUS: Breeder. Uncommon to rare and local in all seasons in Gulf Coast region. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.
DESCRIPTION: A small (15.0-17.0 cm [5.9-6.7 in.]) shorebird characterized by a thin dark bill, grayish or blackish feet and legs, pale gray upperparts, and white underparts. Adults have black side and breast patches, a black crown contrasting with a white forehead, and a dark auricular area; black not as dark in females. Nonbreeding adults and juveniles lack dark markings of breeding adults. Calls include a soft whistled ku-wheet and low kru (Page 1995, Marchant 1986). Six subspecies recognized. Two, the Cuban snowy plover (C. a. tenuirostris) and the western snowy plover (C. a. nivosus), are found in North America; the Cuban snowy plover is a permanent resident in
DISTRIBUTION: Species found in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and
HABITAT: In the Southeast, along coastal sandy beaches, nesting and feeding in washover areas of low barrier islands and up to the primary dunes on coastal beaches. Inland populations can be found in sparsely vegetated to barren flats of saline or alkaline lakes and sand bars of rivers (Makarick et al. 1998, Page 1995).
FEEDING HABITS: Feed on beaches, tidal flats, and along the waterline on a variety of invertebrates including small crustaceans, aquatic insects, marine worms, and mollusks (Imhof 1962). When foraging, as with other plovers, typically wait, identify prey, run, and then seize it.
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: Males establish territories and call to attract potential mates. During courtship activities males may construct several nest scrapes. In the Southeast, pair bonds may be established nearly two months before egg-laying. Male and female line nest with bits of debris. A typical clutch of three eggs laid, with two days normally passing between each subsequent egg. Incubation by both sexes typically begins when clutch is complete. Incubation period around 26 days, with precocial young leaving nest within a few hours of hatching. Young feed themselves from onset while following parent or parents; become independent around 30 days of age (Page 1995). Nesting begins in April in
BASIS FOR STATUS CLASSIFICATION: Have declined throughout their distribution, and in 1995 there was an estimated breeding population of around 21,000 birds. In 1993, Pacific coast populations were listed as threatened by the
Author: Roger Clay