Wildlife Journal Junior!
New Hampshire PBS

Home       |       Wild Files       |       N.H. Animals       |       Animals A-Z       |       Watch Online

Black-bellied Plover -Pluvialis squatarola

Black bellied plover


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Charadriiformes
 Family: Charadriidae
 Genus: Pluvialis
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least Concern Least Concern


Black bellied ploverThe black-bellied plover is a medium-sized shorebird. It is 10-13 inches in length with a wingspan of 24 inches. It has long legs; a short, pointed black bill; a round head and; a white wing stripe that is visible when it is in flight. It is the only American plover with a hind toe on its foot. Its wings extend beyond its tail when they are folded. It has a brown, black, and gray back; a white rump and belly; and a grayish-brown breast. During breeding season, its breast, face, throat, and belly are black, and it has a white stripe running from its forehead down the back and sides of its neck. Males and females look similar, but the male is more brightly colored. The black-bellied plover looks similar to the American golden plover, but the American golden plover doesn't have a white rump or wing stripe!


mapThe black-bellied plover breeds along the Arctic coast from western Alaska to Baffin Island, Canada. It winters along the Pacific coast from British Columbia south to Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast from Massachusetts south to Central America, Bermuda, the Caribbean, and southern South America. It also winters along the Gulf Coast.



Black bellied ploverThe black-bellied plover breeds on the Arctic tundra. It winters on coastal estuaries, beaches, mudflats, the shores of ponds and lakes, grassy meadows, and flooded fields. In the winter, it is often found with other shorebirds like willets, American golden plovers, and redknots.


Black bellied ploverThe black-bellied plover eats insects on its breeding ground and clams, worms, and small crabs on its winter grounds. It chases its prey by running, stopping, and pecking!

Life Cycle

Black bellied ploverThe male builds a scrape on the ground and the female lines it with pebbles, lichens, moss, and dried grass. The female lays 1-4 eggs and both the male and the female incubate them for 26-27 days. The chicks are precocial and walk and feed themselves shortly after birth. Both parents care for the chicks. The chicks fledge at 35-45 days. The female has one brood a year.


The black-bellied plover is very shy and startles easily. It flies away at the slightest disturbance or threat.
Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Bernabe Lopez-Lanus cc logo