Snowy Plover Bird – Profile | Facts | Habitat | Range | Traits

Snowy Plover

The Snowy Plover is a small, pale plover that blends in effectively with its sandy environment. It has a skinny, black bill, darkish grey to blackish legs, darkish patches on both aspects of the higher breast, and darkish ear patches.

Snowy Plover profile

The aspect and ear patches of juveniles and non-breeding adults (September to February) are pale. The aspect and ear patches and crown are black in breeding males and barely duller in breeding females.

An inconspicuous, pale little bird, simply missed because it runs around on white-sand seashores, or on the salt flats around lakes within the arid west.

Where it lives on seashores, its nesting makes an attempt is sometimes disrupted by human visitors who miss out on that they’re preserving the bird away from its nest; consequently, the Snowy Plover populations have declined in lots of coastal areas.

Formerly thought of to belong to the identical species because of the Kentish Plover of the Old World.

Geographic Range

Charadrius alexandrinus breeds on most continents. In North America, they breed regionally within the western inside and on the Pacific and Gulf coasts.

They additionally breed on the islands within the Caribbean and on coasts in Central America. In South America, they breed on the Humboldt Current coast and on the western coast.

In Eurasia, breeding is more widespread within the inside and so they additionally happen on the coasts of Asia, Europe, and northern Africa.

Snowy Plover Overview

The snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) is a small wader within the plover bird family, usually about 5-7″ in size.

It breeds in Ecuador, Peru, Chile, the southern and western United States, and the Caribbean. Long thought of to be a subspecies of the Kentish plover, it’s now recognized to be a definite species.

A small shorebird within the plover family, the Western Snowy Plover is the Pacific Coast inhabitants of the Snowy Plover and breeds primarily alongside coast seashores from southern Washington to southern Baja California.

They forage for small invertebrates on sandy seashores, river gravel bars, and related habitats. Their breeding season lasts from early March via September and so they usually lay 3 eggs in shallow scrapes or depressions within the sand.

Snowy plovers that nest at inland sites aren’t thought of a part of the Pacific coast inhabitants, though they could migrate to coastal areas throughout the winter months.

A small plover of seashores and barren ground, the Snowy Plover could be discovered throughout North and South America, Eurasia, and Africa.

In North America, it’s restricted to the Gulf and Pacific coasts of the United States and scattered inland localities from Saskatchewan to California and Texas.


  • Length: 5.9-6.7 in (15-17 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1-2.Zero oz (32.5-58 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.4-17.Zero in (34-43.2 cm)

Snowy Plover Description

Charadrius alexandrinus is one of many smallest plovers, however, they’ve proportionally longer legs. Plumage varies all through the world with the American Snowy Plover being the palest.

The higher elements of the body are pale in color. Breeding males have a small white brow, a black forecrown band, and a barely reddish-colored hindcrown.

There can be a black eye band under a slim white forehead. Male Snowy Plovers display a black shoulder patch and a whole white collar.

Under elements of the bird are wholly white. Female Snowy Plovers have the identical pattern because the male, however brown areas exchange the black areas.

In each sex, the legs are darkish grey, the eyes are massive and black, and the bill is black and slender.

North American Snowy Plovers have the identical common pattern as Kentish Plovers (the name of Snowy Plovers in Europe), however, the higher elements of the North American bird are a pale sandy grey color, and the breeding males have a pale fawn hind crown.

The legs are additionally a paler color in Snowy Plovers than in Kentish Plovers. In-flight, Snowy Plovers could be distinguished by their slender white wing stripe and a partial darkish bar on the tip of their tail.

Snowy Plover Behavior

Some frequently noticed cleansing behaviors are preening, head-scratching, stretching one leg or one wing, and bathing in water.

Snowy Plovers sleep with the bill and the front of the top tucked below their feathers. While sleeping, they’ll solely stand on one leg, particularly when the climate is chilly. Periodically, they’ll shut their eyes whereas sleeping.

Both sexes actively defend their nest territories by posturing, chasing, or combating. This is finished by operating or flying on the intruder. Males are usually more aggressive than females.

Fights often happen between males when their broods are threatened. Adults might typically invade one other plover’s territory to peck their chicks when their very own territories are invaded.

During some fights, a bird might seize its enemy’s tail with its bill and pull on its feathers whereas handing over circles.

Snowy Plovers are a social bird in winter. Birds kind flocks of as much as 300 people. Nesting birds usually collect at small ponds at nightfall the place they bathe, drink, and feed.

Periodic spells of calling and posturing of particular person birds inside the team’s counsel that these nighttime gatherings could also be vital areas for socialization.

During the winter on the Gulf Coast, Snowy Plovers might happen in blended flocks of different shorebirds, together with Piping Plovers.

Both adults brood their chicks, although, in western North America, females usually desert their mates and broods about 6 days after hatching. Young birds are usually within the care of both their mom or father till they’re wherever between 29-47 days old, or till they’ll fly.

When approached by predators, Snowy Plovers will normally run from their nest. They will fly when stunned, although.

While operating, they could additionally decrease their tail to the ground or flap their wings to feign damage. Snowy Plovers will crouch of their nest when Peregrine Falcons fly overhead.

Adults with chicks will react with calls when approached by possible predators, and they’re going to typically do that whereas flying back and forth. Small chicks will normally crouch and stay immobile when approached by predators, whereas older chicks will usually run with their parents.

Predators (on adults): Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Prairie Falcon, Northern Harrier, feral cat, red fox

Predators (on chicks): Loggerhead Shrike, Common Raven, California Gull, American Kestrel, Northern Harrier, Great Blue Heron, crows, Cattle Egret, red fox, opossum, ghost crab

Predators (on eggs): Common Raven, American Crow, Fish Crow, California Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Great Blue Heron, coyote, red fox, grey fox, island fox, striped skunk, noticed skunk, raccoon, opossum, and ghost crab


The snowy plover breeds on sandy coasts and brackish inland lakes, and is unusual on contemporary water. It nests in a ground scrape and lays three to 5 eggs.

Beaches, sandy flats. At all seasons, tends to be present in locations the place habitat matches pale colour of back — dry sand seashores alongside the coast; salt pans or alkaline flats inside.

Usually in locations with little or no vegetation, not round marshes. Also typically forages on open mudflats.

In North America, the snowy plover breeds from Texas and Oklahoma west to California and up the shoreline to Oregon and Washington. The coastal kind’s major breeding focus is in central and southern California.

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Includes crustaceans, bugs, marine worms. Along the coast, might feed totally on tiny crustaceans, mollusks, and marine worms, additionally some bugs.

At inland sites, diet could also be largely bugs, together with numerous flies and beetles.

Typically they run a couple of steps after which pause, then run once more, pecking on the ground every time they spot one thing edible. Will typically maintain one foot ahead and shuffle it quickly over the floor of sand or mud, as if to startle small creatures into shifting.

Snowy Plover Feeding Behavior

The primary meals eaten by Snowy Plovers are terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. On the Pacific Coast of North America, these embrace mole crabs, polychaetes, amphipods, sand hoppers, tanadacians, flies, beetles, clams, and ostracods.

The meals are eaten in San Francisco Bay and in freshwater ponds embrace flies, beetles, moths, and lepidopteran caterpillars. In saline and alkaline lakes of the Great Basin, Snowy Plovers feed on flies, beetles, hemipterans, and brine shrimp.

Sources of meals in salt flats of the Great Plains embrace flies, beetles, grasshoppers, lepidopterans, and beetles. In the Gulf Coast, the bird feeds on small crustaceans, mollusks, marine worms, aquatic bugs, and seeds.

Snowy Plovers forage on seashores, tide flats, salt flats, and salt ponds. At seashores, the bird gathers meals from sand surfaces, kelp, marine-mammal carcasses, and above and under the average high water line.

Birds that can be inland sought for meals on the shores of lakes, reservoirs, ponds, braided river channels, and playas.

When searching their prey, Snowy Plovers normally pauses, look, run, after which seize their prey from the floor of the seaside or the tide flat. Above the high-tide line on California seashores, Snowy Plovers seek meals on the basis of low-rising crops.

In Mono Lake, California, Snowy Plovers feed on brine fly larvae (Ephydridae). They usually shake the larvae before swallowing them.

The birds will typically decrease their head and cost with their mouth open into a gaggle of adult flies on the ground whereas snapping their bill. The bill snaps about two to a few instances to crush the captured flies before swallowing them.

This charging technique can be used to seize remoted bugs on California seashores. Another behavior typically used before feeding is to tremble one foot in shallow water or on a moist substrate.

Snowy Plover Breeding

Males solicit females from their territories by calling and standing. The male then runs to a spot within the nest and begins scraping.

The feminine begins scraping because the male steps out, and she or he settles into the nest. The male bows next to the feminine a number of instances together with his head pointed to the ground.

While bowing, he flashes the white on his tail to the feminine. The feminine then steps out of the nest to run about 0.5-2.Zero m. She stands together with her body pretty parallel to the ground.

The male then stands immediately behind her and begins kicking his legs high. He then jumps on her back.

While on her back, he shifts his weight alternately from one leg to the opposite. Both birds then shift their tails side-to-side with growing velocity.

At the moment of intercourse, the male makes use of his bill to seize the back of the feminine’s neck, and each bird falls backward with their wings flapping.

Snowy Plover Eggs

3, typically 2, hardly ever 4. Pale buff, dotted with black. Incubation is by each parent, 26-32 days. Male normally incubates at night, feminine most of day. Young:

Downy younger depart nest a couple of hours after hatching, feed themselves, can fly at age of 28-32 days. In some areas, each parent has a tendency younger.

In different areas, the feminine might depart in lower than 6 days, leaving the male to lift younger; the feminine might then discover one other mate, and lift one other set of younger.

In these circumstances, a male from the first nest can also discover a new mate and renest after the first younger have fledged.


Downy younger depart nest a couple of hours after hatching, feed themselves, can fly at age of 28-32 days. In some areas, each parent has a tendency younger.

In different areas, the feminine might depart in lower than 6 days, leaving the male to lift younger; the feminine might then discover one other mate, and lift one other set of younger.

In these circumstances, a male from the first nest can also discover a new mate and renest after the first younger has fledged.


May nest in unfastened colonies or as remoted pairs; typically nests near tern colonies. Unlike many shorebirds, the male appears to don’t have any aerial display over territory.

The nest site is on the open naked ground, typically near a grass clump or piece of driftwood. The nest is a shallow scrape in the ground, lined with bits of shell, grass, pebbles, different particles, typically surrounded by related objects.


On March 5, 1993, the western snowy plover was listed as a threatened species below the Endangered Species Act of 1973. As of June 19, 2012, the habitat alongside the California, Oregon, and Washington Coasts have been listed as vital.

In 2016, danger assessments by the IUCN listed the snowy plover as close to threatened and located that the species had a total lowering inhabitants development.

In many elements of the world, it has change into troublesome for this species to breed on seashores due to disturbance from the activities of people or their animals.


The Snowy Plover often raises two broods a year, and typically three in locations the place the breeding season is long. The feminine deserts her mate and brood concerning the time the chicks hatch and initiate brand new breeding try with a unique male.

Young Snowy Plovers depart their nest within three hours of hatching. They flatten themselves on the ground when a parent alerts the method of people or potential predators.

They stroll, run, and swim effectively and forage unassisted by parents, however require periodic brooding for a lot of days after hatching.

The oldest recorded Snowy Plover was no less than 15 years, 2 months old when it was noticed within the wild in California and recognized by its band.

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