Wilson’s Plovers

Wilson's Plovers (Charadrius wilsonia)

The Wilson’s Plover (Charadrius wilsonia) is a small plover.

Wilson’s Plover is a coastal wader that breeds on both coasts of the Americas from the equator northwards. Its range extends north to include much of the U.S. eastern coast, and the west coast of Mexico in the west.

It is a partial migrant. Birds leave the United States, except Florida winter south to Brazil. Some Mexican birds leave in winter to reach Peru.

Wilson's Plovers Searching Food Alone In The Sand
Wilson’s Plovers Searching Food Alone In The Sand

This strictly coastal plover nests on a bare scrape on sandy beaches or sandbars.

This is a small plover at 17-20cm. The adult’s upper parts are mainly dark grey, with a short white wing bar and white tail sides. The underparts are white except for a breast band, and the legs are pink, and brighter when breeding. The dark bill is large and heavy for a plover of this size. The call is a high weak whistle.

The breeding male has a black breast band, Dolores (the regions between the eyes and bill on the side of a bird’s head) and forecrown, and a rufous mask. Females and non-breeding males have similar plumage, but the black of the breeding male is replaced by brown or rufous. Non-breeders have a greyer tint to the head and breast band.

Wilson's Plovers Taking A Bath
Wilson’s Plovers Taking A Bath

Immature birds are similar to the female, but the breast band is often incomplete.

Wilson’s Plovers forage for food on beaches, usually by sight, moving slowly across the beach. They have a liking for crabs, but will also eat insects and marine worms.

This bird was named after the Scottish-American ornithologist Alexander Wilson.


  • BirdLife International (2004). . 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Shorebirds by Hayman, Marchant and Prater ISBN 0-395-60237-8

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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