Snowy PloverCharadrius nivosus
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. The similar Piping Plover has stubbier yellow bill and yellow legs.
A plaintive chu-we or o-wee-ah.
quirr & other calls
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Flat sandy beaches, salt flats, and sandy areas with little vegetation.
Resident along Pacific Coast from British Columbia to Mexico, and along Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida Panhandle. Also breeds locally in interior from California and Nevada east to Oklahoma and Texas. Also in Old World.
The Snowy Plover's patchy distribution, not only in North America but elsewhere in the world, is due to its specialized habitat requirements. Keeping to large, flat expanses of sand, it avoids competition for food in a habitat in which few other birds can exist. Here these plovers, with their pale coloration, are difficult to see even when they run. As soon as the plover stops running it seems to disappear, blending into its surroundings. The eggs also blend with dry sand or salty barren soil and are almost impossible to find once the incubating bird slips off them. Inland, these birds feed mainly on insects but along the coast they also take crustaceans, worms, and other small marine creatures.
2 or 3 buff eggs, spotted with black, in a sandy depression lined with a few shell fragments or bits of grass.