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Common Ringed Plover

From Opus

(Redirected from Ringed Plover)
Photo by peteee23Point of Ayre, Isle of Man
Photo by peteee23
Point of Ayre, Isle of Man
Charadrius hiaticula

Contents

[edit] Identification

Photo by Karim MadoyaKota Kinabalu, Malaysia, November 2011
Photo by Karim Madoya
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, November 2011

A small plover, 17-19.5 cm body length, with a distinctive bold black and white pattern on the head, short orange bill with black tip and orange legs. The grey-brown upperparts blend well with a variety of shingle and sand colours, so that a sitting bird is often unnoticed.

In winter, the legs usually becomes a little duller, the bill becomes mostly or all black, and the black in head and neck markings becomes browner and less distinct.

Immatures are similar but with many feathers having white edgings giving a scaly impression.

[edit] Similar species

Semipalmated Plover is closest, Little Ringed Plover the more common similar species in Europe

[edit] Distribution

Photo by Benderloch
Photo by Benderloch

Mainly Old World, marginal in North America: breeding from northeast Canada and Greenland to Europe (mostly northern half, including Britain) and northern Asia, wintering in southern Europe, Africa, and southern Asia. Vagrant to southern Canada, USA, and the Caribbean. Populations exhibit leapfrog migration, with the northernmost breeding birds (e.g. arctic Scandinavia) migrating the furthest south as far as South Africa, while birds breeding at the southern edge of the breeding range (e.g. Britain) only migrate short distances if at all.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

There are two or three subspecies1

[edit] Habitat

Photo by Benderloch
Photo by Benderloch

Mostly seen at the coast, but also found inland, wherever there is water with sandy or gravelly margins, e.g. gravel pits, reservoirs and in the tundra.

[edit] Behaviour

Ringed Plover can be almost impossible to see with the naked eye when on shingle beaches - one of its favourite habitats. Its movement, flight or plaintive call almost always reveal its presence, however.

[edit] Diet

The short bill is used to forage along the low water mark and amongst pebbles and drift seaweed. Sand hoppers and insects are favoured prey.

[edit] Breeding

The eggs are laid in a depression with no nest material at all, often just above the strandline, and may be inundated by exceptionally high tides. One parent sits on the nest while the other forages nearby. Disturbed birds will wait until they feel safe, then one will run up the shore to the nest.

Photo by gray38Isle of Mull, May 2010
Photo by gray38
Isle of Mull, May 2010

Once hatched, the chicks are soon on the move, exploring their surroundings (see images of 2 ringed chicks). When danger threatens, a call from a parent causes them to freeze and sit tight until the parent calls the 'all clear'. Chicks are brooded beneath parents when conditions are cold or wet, but are left to find their own food. Like other wader chicks, their legs and feet appear oversized compared with the body and it takes several weeks before their proportions resemble those of the adult.

Adults will defend the young against predators 3-4 times their size, e.g. Herring Gulls; they will also perform a broken wing display to lead predators away from nests or chicks.

[edit] Vocalisation

Call: melodic too-li, coo-eep or queeo


Listen in an external program

[edit] References

  1. Clements, JF. 2010. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2010. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/Clements%206.5.xls/view
  2. Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds 1966
  3. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition ISBN 0 00 219900 9

[edit] External Links


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