American Golden-Plover

Pluvialis dominica
An American Golden-Plover specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A large (10-11 inches) wader, the male American Golden-Plover is most easily identified by its mottled golden back and crown, black underparts, and broad white stripe separating the two regions. The female American Golden-Plover in summer is similar to the male, but is slightly paler, especially on the face. In winter, both sexes are paler overall, becoming mottled gray above and pale below. In the breeding season, this species is most easily separated from the related Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) by that species’ larger size and grayer back. The American Golden-Plover breeds in northern Alaska and northwestern Canada. In winter, this species undertakes a long-distance migration to southern South America. American Golden-Plovers follow the Atlantic seaboard south during the fall migration, and return north along the central portion of the continent in spring. American Golden-Plovers breed on dry, sparsely-vegetated tundra habitats. In winter and on migration, this species utilizes a variety of open habitats, including grasslands, fields, coastal marshes, and mudflats. American Golden-Plovers primarily eat small invertebrates, including insects, earthworms, mollusks, and crustaceans. Due to its remote breeding and wintering habitats, many North American birdwatchers have only observed this species on migration. In suitable habitat, individuals may be seen foraging for food by probing the mud with their bills. This species is known to be territorial on its summer and winter ranges, but gathers in small flocks during migration. American Golden-Plovers are primarily active during the day.

Threat Status: Least Concern