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What is a Plover?

A plover is a charming, small wading bird known for its round body and short bill, often found along shorelines and grasslands. These birds are celebrated for their intricate mating dances and tireless parenting. Their role in ecosystems is as fascinating as their behavior. How do plovers impact their habitats? Join us to uncover the life of these feathered wonders.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A plover is a type of wading shorebird in the Charadriidae family. Around 40 species in this family are considered to be plovers, and representatives of the family can be found all over the world, along the shorelines of oceans, lakes, and other large bodies of water. Unfortunately, several plover species are considered to be threatened or even endangered, due to habitat pressures which have caused their numbers to decline. As a result, some sections of shoreline in many regions of the world have been designated as off-limits to humans, in the hopes of encouraging the plover population to revive.

Several features distinguish a plover from other shorebirds. They have squat, rounded bodies with heavy breasts, short tails, and small bills, and they tend to be extremely small. Plovers also move very erratically, typically socializing in large groups which swirl about from place to place, looking for food. Some people compare the movements of plovers to chickens, as the birds hunt and peck erratically while they seek out the marine invertebrates, insects, and worms which form the bulk of their diets.

Plovers are a shorebird that can be found all over the world.
Plovers are a shorebird that can be found all over the world.

Plovers nest on the ground, typically digging shallow depressions in the earth and lining them with available plant material, animal hair, and other substances. Because plovers nest on the ground, their nests are at risk from heavy footed humans and other animals, who may crush the eggs by accident as they traverse the shoreline. Plovers are also threatened by predators such as dogs, who may disturb the birds, attack the parents, or eat the eggs.

Ringed plovers have a black mask around the eyes.
Ringed plovers have a black mask around the eyes.

The call of the plover is very distinctive, with most plovers making a range of whistling noises which can carry quite a ways along the seashore. Some plovers are famous for being quite noisy, and in a large group, a flock of plovers can be almost deafening. In areas with a great deal of biodiversity, plovers are often seen in the midst of flocks of other shorebirds, where they dart around opportunistically in search of dropped food.

The plover is distinguished by a range of whistling noises that can carry quite a ways along the seashore.
The plover is distinguished by a range of whistling noises that can carry quite a ways along the seashore.

Some notable examples of plovers include the New Zealand Wrybill, the only bird in the world with a beak which is bent sideways, and the killdeer, a killdeer which is famous for its penetrating calls. The snowy plover and piping plover are two species with well-advertised conservation campaigns behind them; snowy plover nesting areas are often found along North American seashores.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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    • Plovers are a shorebird that can be found all over the world.
      By: Riverwalker
      Plovers are a shorebird that can be found all over the world.
    • Ringed plovers have a black mask around the eyes.
      By: deejaywolf
      Ringed plovers have a black mask around the eyes.
    • The plover is distinguished by a range of whistling noises that can carry quite a ways along the seashore.
      By: FLORIAN ANDRONACHE
      The plover is distinguished by a range of whistling noises that can carry quite a ways along the seashore.