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Mountain Plover Charadrius montanus

 

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Mountain Plover
credit: USFWS

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Family: Charadriidae, Plovers view all from this family



Description ADULT In summer has mainly sandy brown upperparts and white underparts. Note, however, black loral line from eye to base of bill, black forecrown, and white on forehead extending as superciliary stripe above eye. Bill is dark and legs are relatively long and pale buff-gray. In winter, black elements of head plumage are sandy brown and neck and breast can look grubby buff. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but pale feather edges on back create a scaly appearance.


Dimensions Length: 8-9 1/2" (20-24 cm)


Habitat Endangered and declining. Breeds on Midwest High Plains and nesting requirements are specific: needs naturally grazed, shortgrass prairies, such as those found in the vicinity of prairie-dog "towns"; sadly of course, these too are in decline as a result of habitat loss and degradation from agriculture. Gregarious outside the breeding season. From Nov-Feb, found in arid southern regions from California to Texas.


Observation Tips An enigmatic species that you are unlikely to encounter by chance. Probably easiest to find in winter and flocks can sometimes be discovered by scanning bare, plowed fields or short grassland in arid parts of southern California; the general vicinity of Salton Sea would be a good starting point. Midday heat haze hampers observation, so early mornings are best. Note that birds are surprisingly difficult to spot until they move, so persistent observation is usually needed.


Range Rocky Mountains, California, Southwest, Southeast, Texas, Plains


Voice Utters a harsh krrrt.


Discussion Sandy-colored plover that blends in well with its surroundings. Despite its understated plumage, it has an iconic conservation status because of its vulnerability to habitat loss. In flight, dark upper wingtips and dark subterminal patch on upper tail are useful in identification. Feeds on invertebrates. Sexes are similar.


 

 

 

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