Photo Credit: Terry Hartley
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Charadrius wilsonia Ord
OTHER NAMES: Thick-billed Plover (Corbat 2000).
STATUS: Breeder. Rare and local in spring, summer, and fall in Gulf Coast region. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.
DESCRIPTION: A medium-sized (16.5-20.0 cm [6.5-7.9 in.]; Corbat 2000) plover readily distinguished from other ringed plovers by stout black bill; upperparts gray-brown, underparts white, and legs flesh-colored. Has a white forehead connecting a white supercilium and white hindneck collar. White eye-ring contrasts with dark eyes and ear coverts. In breeding males, breast band, forecrown, and lores black; in females they are gray-brown. Nonbreeding adults and juveniles similar to females, but breast band may be incomplete and birds may appear grayer overall. Call a high-pitched whistled whit or wheet. Alarmed birds may give an urgent, repeated quit call (Corbat 2000). Three subspecies recognized; two occur in
DISTRIBUTION: Coastal areas from
HABITAT: Coastal sites with sparse vegetation including sand dunes, beaches, sandflats, and barrier islands. Postnesting or migrating birds can be found in areas of open flat beaches with tidal pools. Wintering birds use beaches with tidal mudflats (Imhof 1976, Corbat 2000).
FEEDING HABITS: Crustaceans are a major food, especially fiddler crabs (Corbat 2000). Shrimp, mollusks, and flies also are consumed (Imhof 1976).
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: By early spring, birds arrive on breeding grounds and pair bonds may form before territories are established. Males create multiple nest scrapes on territories, but females choose nest sites (Bergstrom 1988). Nest is a shallow depression with added bits of shell, often built in open areas with scattered vegetation behind primary dunes. Typically, three pale buff eggs marked with dark speckles, splotches, and scrawls are laid. Produce one brood per year, but renesting occurs if nesting fails (Corbat 2000). Broken wing displays used in attempt to divert potential predators from nest. Both parents incubate eggs for about 25 days. Young feed themselves within a few hours of hatching, and become independent around 21 days.
BASIS FOR STATUS CLASSIFICATION: Although no population trend data exist, nesting birds are now absent from
Author: Roger Clay