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Lesser Sand Plover - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: Mongolian Plover

Photo © by Akiko Hidaka
Tokyo, Japan, August
Charadrius mongolus


Breeding plumage
Photo © by Francksan
Hokkaido, Japan, May 2007

18–21 cm (7-8¼ in)

  • Grey back
  • White underparts
  • Legs are dark and the bill black


  • Chestnut breast, forehead and nape
  • Black eye mask

The female is similar but duller
Winter and juvenile birds lack the chestnut

The two groups mentioned under taxonomy differ in several characters, such that a member of the mongolus group on average are larger than an atrifrons sand plover, and mongolus have mottled flanks where atrifrons have clean white flanks.

Similar Species

Photo © by Ken Doy
Wellington Point, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, March 2020

Greater Sand Plover


Breeds in northern Asia. Winters in south Asia, Africa and Australia.
Vagrants have been recorded in Europe and America.



Ssp. C. m. atrifrons : Breeding plumage
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Nazafgarh Marshes, Delhi-Gurgaon Border, India, May-2017
Ssp. C. m. pamirensis : Non-breeding plumage
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Jamnagar, Coastal Gujarat, India, Jan-2016

There are five races, which fall in two groups[1]:

  • mongulus are the large east Asian forms, C. m. mongolus and C. m. stegmanni which are sometimes given specific status as Mongolian Plover, Charadrius mongolus.
  • atrifrons consists of atrifrons, pamirensis and schaeferi which, if the taxonomic split is accepted, becomes a narrower Lesser Sandplover Charadrius atrifrons.
  • C. m. pamirensis:
  • C. m. atrifrons:
  • C. m. schaeferi:
  • C. m. mongolus:
  • C. m. stegmanni:
  • Kamchatka to Chukotsk Peninsula; winters to Australia


Coastal shores, mudflats and fields



They nest in a bare ground scrape; the clutch consists of 3 eggs.


Their varied diet includes insects, crustaceans, such as crabs and molluscs and annelid worms on their non-breeding grounds. What they eat during the breeding season is not well recorded.


Flight call: A hard trill.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  3. Thread in Birdforum Id forum discussing Lesser vs Greater Sand Plover identification
  4. Wiersma, P., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A. & Boesman, P. (2020). Lesser Sandplover (Charadrius mongolus). 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 https://www.hbw.com/node/53845 on 3 March 2020)

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