Black-bellied Plover

Pluvialis squatarola
A Black-bellied Plover specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A large (10 ½ -13 ½ inches) wader, the male Black-bellied Plover is most easily identified by its mottled gray back and crown, black underparts, and broad white stripe separating the two regions. The female Black-bellied 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. The Black-bellied Plover occurs across much of the Northern Hemisphere. In North America, this species breeds in northern Alaska and northwestern Canada, wintering along the coasts from British Columbia and Massachusetts south to southern South America. In the Old World, the Black-bellied Plover breeds along the arctic coast of Russia, wintering south to Western and Southern Europe, South and Southeast Asia, and Australasia. Black-bellied Plovers breed on dry, sparsely-vegetated tundra habitats. In winter and on migration, this species utilizes a variety of coastal habitats, including sandy beaches, estuaries, and mudflats. Black-bellied Plovers primarily eat small invertebrates, including insects, earthworms, mollusks, and crustaceans. Due to its remote breeding range, many birdwatchers are only familiar with this species during the winter months. 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. Black-bellied Plovers are primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Common migrant April to June and late July to mid-November. Individuals occasionally remain through the summer or winter. Found on mud flats and sandy beaches. The belly is black in summer, gray in winter. The sexes are similar.

Specimen Information

Date: 10/3/1912
Collected By: Wm Palmer
Locality:  Potomac River, Washington DC
Sex: Immature Male
Catalog ID: 236335

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC48578 Pluvialis squatarola (Grey Plover)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC25685 Pluvialis squatarola (Grey Plover)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC56913 Pluvialis squatarola (Grey Plover)