Semipalmated Plover

Charadrius semipalmatus
A Semipalmated Plover specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

The stereotypical winter plover in many coastal regions of the southern United States, the Semipalmated Plover is most easily identified by its small size (6 ½ to 7 ½ inches), yellow eye-ring, and thin bill. In summer, this species has a broad black collar, black-tipped orange bill, black face mask, and white forehead. In winter, this species loses much of the black on its upper body and becomes duller brown overall. Males and females are similar to one another in all seasons. The Semipalmated Plover breeds across northern Canada and Alaska. This species migrates south in winter, when it may be found on the coast of California and in the coastal southeastern U.S. Semipalmated Plovers also winter in Mexico, Central America, South America, and the West Indies. Semipalmated Plovers breed on rocky or gravelly beaches, as well on dry tundra further inland. On migration or in winter, this species may be found on sandy beaches, mudflats, riverbanks, and in salt marshes. The Semipalmated Sandpiper primarily eats insects, insect larvae, and other small invertebrates. Semipalmated Plovers are most easily observed along the water’s edge, probing the mud for food with their bills. They may also be seen in small flocks flying above the surf, frequently mingling with other species of waders. This species is most active during the day.

Threat Status: Least Concern

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