Semipalmated PloverCharadrius semipalmatus

adult male, breeding
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
juvenile
Claude Nadeau/VIREO
adult, nonbreeding
Richard Crossley/VIREO
juvenile
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult female, breeding
Arthur Morris/VIREO
juvenile
Jukka Jantunen/VIREO
adult, breeding
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult, nonbreeding
Richard Crossley/VIREO
adult female, breeding
Arthur Morris/VIREO
Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover

Family

Description

6-8" (15-20 cm). A brown-backed plover with white underparts and 1 black breast band. Bill stubby, yellow-orange, with dark tip. Immature has all-black bill and brownish breast band. Piping Plover similar but much paler above. Larger Killdeer has 2 black breast bands.

Voice

A plaintive 2-note whistle, tu-wee. Also a soft, rather musical rattle.

Listen

cherry-up calls
flight calls
kwee-up calls

Habitat

Breeds on sandy or mossy tundra; during migration found on beaches, mudflats, shallow pools in salt marshes, and lakeshores.

Range

Breeds from Alaska east to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Winters regularly from California and Carolinas south and along Gulf Coast; rarely farther north.

Discussion

Like other plovers, the Semipalmated forages in short bursts-a quick run followed by a stop-during which it scans the sand or mud in front of it for any sign of life before running on. It does not probe like its usual associates, the longer-billed sandpipers. Taking most of their food right from the surface, Semipalmated Plovers prey mainly on small crustaceans and mollusks.

Nesting

4 buff eggs, spotted with dark brown and black, placed in a shallow depression sparsely lined with shell fragments, pebbles, and bits of vegetation on the tundra.

Similar Species

adult male, breeding

Snowy Plover

5-7" (13-18 cm). A small whitish plover with pale brown upperparts, black legs, slender black bill, and small black mark on each side of breast.

adult male, breeding

Wilson's Plover

7-8" (18-20 cm). Male brown above and white below with a broad black eye patch and breast band, and heavy black bill. Female similar, but breast band is brown.

adult male, breeding

Common Ringed Plover

7" (19 cm). Nearly identical to Semipalmated Plover, from which best distinguished by call.

adult male, breeding

Piping Plover

6-7" (15-18 cm). A pale plover with sandy upperparts, narrow, incomplete black breast band, stubby bill with an orange base, and yellowish legs.

Killdeer

9-11" (23-28 cm). Our largest "ringed" plover. Brown above and white below, with 2 black bands across breast, long legs, and relatively long tail. In flight, shows rusty uppertail coverts and rump.

Vireo

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