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Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola


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Black-bellied Plover, breeding
credit: Tim Bowman, USFWS

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Charadriidae, Plovers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE In summer has striking black underparts, separated from spangled gray upperparts by broad white band. In winter, looks gray overall. Close view reveals spangled black and white upperparts and whitish underparts. Legs and bill are dark. ADULT FEMALE Similar to male, but black on underparts is variably mottled. In winter, similar to male. JUVENILE Resembles winter adult, but has pale buffy wash, hence potential for confusion with golden-plovers.

Dimensions Length: 10-13" (25-33 cm)

Habitat Breeds on high Arctic tundra. In winter, almost exclusively coastal, on salt marshes and estuaries. On migration, occasionally stages on lake margins in interior.

Observation Tips Easiest to observe in winter and hence mostly seen in winter plumage. However, summer plumage is often retained briefly by birds in fall newly arrived on wintering grounds and acquired, prior to departure, in spring.

Range Western Canada, Alaska, Eastern Canada, Texas, Mid-Atlantic, California, New England, Florida, Northwest, Plains, Southeast, Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes, Southwest

Voice Utters a diagnostic pee-oo-ee call, like a human wolf-whistle.

Discussion Plump-bodied, well-marked plover. In flight, all birds reveal striking black "armpits" (axillaries) on otherwise white underwings, white upper tail, and white wing stripe. Mostly solitary outside breeding season. Sexes are separable with care in summer plumage.