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European Golden Plover

From Opus

Alternative names: Golden Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, European Golden-Plover

Adult breeding plumagePhoto © by Digiscoper321West Sweden, 25 July 2005
Adult breeding plumage
Photo © by Digiscoper321
West Sweden, 25 July 2005
Pluvialis apricaria


[edit] Identification

Adult non-breeding plumagePhoto © by J. H. JohnsCamborne,  Cornwall, December 2010
Adult non-breeding plumage
Photo © by J. H. Johns
Camborne, Cornwall, December 2010

Length 26-29 cm (10¼-11½ in), wingspan 67-76 cm
Breeding adult is stocky with gold-on-black spangled back and cap; black face and belly with white supercilium which goes down neck along flanks; white undertail coverts. Amount of black on face and throat varies; most on northern males, least on southern females.
Non-breeding adult has buffy supercilium, buffy unmarked throat, and golden spotted breast grading to white belly.
Juvenile is very similar to non-breeding adult, differing in fine pale gold barring on the belly.

All plumages have short bill, bright golden spangled back, and white underwing coverts.

[edit] Similar Species

Overall more golden coloured than the other Pluvialis plovers.
American Golden Plover in all plumages has longer primary projection, darker golden coloured back, white contrasting supercilium, and grey underwing; in breeding plumage has totally black undertail coverts and belly; in nonbreeding and juvenile plumages has grey weakly barred belly and grey back with dark golden spots.

Pacific Golden Plover in all plumages has darker golden coloured back, white contrasting supercilium, slightly longer legs, and grey underwing; in breeding plumage has white on flanks with black barring; nonbreeding plumage has greyish not as defined breast markings, whitish supercilium; juvenile has yellowish wash to face, barred yellowish breast and belly markings.

Grey Plover is somewhat larger, with a longer, stouter bill, white undertail, black and white spotted back, and white uppertail coverts and rump.

Non-breeding plumage in flightPhoto © by the late MahslebSouthwold, Suffolk, 10 February 2012
Non-breeding plumage in flight
Photo © by the late Mahsleb
Southwold, Suffolk, 10 February 2012

[edit] Distribution

Breeds in northern Europe and northwestern Asia; winters western and southern Europe, southwestern Asia and northern Africa.
Europe: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Greenland (rare), British Isles, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Portugal, Spain (including Ibiza, Mallorca, Canary Islands, Extremadura), Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, Italy (including Sardinia), Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, , Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece (including Corfu] Lesvos, Crete), Malta, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova
Northern Africa: Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, cid.] Middle East: Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel
Arabian Peninsula: Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia
Asia: Russia, Siberia, Turkestan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan

Vagrant in winter west to the Azores and Canary Islands, south to Mauritania, Gambia and east to Pakistan, and in summer west to Newfoundland in Canada, and north to Svalbard and Jan Mayen.

Flock overheadPhoto © by cheersm8Cambridgeshire, UK, 20 September 2010
Flock overhead
Photo © by cheersm8
Cambridgeshire, UK, 20 September 2010

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

Two subspecies are accepted by a few authors[1], but the variation is clinal with extensive intergradation, with other authorities treating the species as monotypic[2]:

  • P. a. altifrons:
  • Breeds east-central Greenland, Iceland and Faeroes to Taymyr Peninsula. Breeding males with solid black face, breeding females with mostly black face.
  • P. a. apricaria:

The two subspecies are indistinguishable in winter and juvenile plumages. An additional subspecies P. a. oreophilos is generally considered to be invalid[7].

[edit] Habitat

Breeds on moors and tundra, winters around coasts and on ploughed farmland or closely grazed grassland.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

The diet includes insects, crustaceans, and berries.

[edit] Breeding

Ground nesters. The nest is usually just a hollow in the open ground, relying on the egg colouration for camouflage. The clutch consists of 4 eggs, which vary from stone-coloured through buff to pale olive; they are well marked with reddish-brown or black streaks, spots and splotches[8].

[edit] Vocalisation

European Golden Plover voice clip

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  2. Gill, F & D Donsker (Eds). 2018. IOC World Bird List (v8.2). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.8.2. Available at
  3. Chandler, R. (2009). Shorebirds of North America, Europe, and Asia: A photographic guide. Princeton.
  4. Béchet, A. 2009. European Union Management Plan 2009-2011 for Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.
  5. Gudmundsson, G. A. (1997). - Winter distribution of Icelandic Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria. Bliki, 18, 55-58.
  6. Wiersma, P., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2018). Eurasian Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 6 October 2018).
  7. Avibase
  8. Swain, H. D. 1954. The Observer's Book of Birds' Eggs. Frederick Warne / Observer ISBN 0723200602

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