Wild Birds

American Golden Plovers

The American Golden Plovers (Pluvialis dominica) is a medium-sized plover.


Adults are spotted gold and black on the crown, back and wings. Their face and neck are black with a white border; they have a black breast and a dark rump. The legs are black.

Similar Species

It is similar to two other golden plovers, Eurasian and Pacific. American Golden Plover is smaller, slimmer and relatively longer-legged than Eurasian Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) which also has white axillary (armpit) feathers.

It is more similar to Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) with which it was once considered conspecific (of, or belonging to, the same species) under the name “Lesser Golden Plover” (reviewed in Sangster et al., 2002). The Pacific Golden Plover is slimmer than the American species, has a shorter primary projection, and longer legs, and is usually yellower on the back.

Distribution / Range

The American Golden Plovers breeds in the arctic tundra from northern Canada and Alaska.

They are migratory and winter in northern South America. They follow an elliptical migration path; northbound birds stage in great numbers in places like Illinois, but in fall, they take a more easterly route, flying mostly over the western Atlantic and Caribbean Sea to the wintering grounds in Patagonia. It is a regular vagrant to western Europe.

They nest on the ground in a dry open area.

Diet / Feeding

They forage for food on tundra, fields, beaches and tidal flats, usually by sight. They eat insects and crustaceans, as well as berries.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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