Beak of the Week – American Golden-Plover

American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica)

Family: Charadriidae

By Averi Lohman, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon

The American Golden-Plover is a very unassuming bird this time of year. Its plumage is a brown-gray color with some darker brown spots and gray ‘armpits’ on the underside of its wings. When it arrives at its breeding grounds in the Arctic, the American Golden-Plover’s plumage has transformed drastically. Its face and underside turn black and its back becomes mottled with black, white, and yellow. 

These birds have one of the largest migration distances, flying upwards of 20,000 miles from their breeding grounds in the Arctic to their wintering grounds in South America. American Golden-Plovers prefer to feed in farm fields and grasslands, so they are less common along shorelines where their cousin the Black-bellied Plover lives. They feed on insects, small invertebrates, and seeds, using their thin beaks to pick up food and probe the dirt. 

While Golden-Plovers aren’t around here very long, their arrival is a herald of spring. When you drive by some of those massive fields Texas is known for, keep an eye out for these little plovers foraging in the grasses.

Greg Lavaty
Greg Lavaty
 Visit our Bird Gallery to read about other Texas birds! 

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