Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

Golden Plover

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Charadriidae | [latin] Pluvialis apricaria | [UK] Golden Plover | [FR] Pluvier dore | [DE] Goldregenpfeifer | [ES] Chorlito Dorado Europeo | [NL] Goudplevier


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

Largest and bulkiest of golden plovers, with underwing white, as opposed to brownish grey, also differs in shape and plumage color. Wings equal in length to tail or slightly longer.
Female less extensively black, with some brown markings below. Non-breeding adult lacks black on face and underparts. upperparts less distinctly spotted with yellow, can turn greyish. Juvenile as non-breeding adult.
In race altifrons male more uniformly black below. Female altifrons has yellowish cheeks with black marks.
Although generally common, its range has contracted somewhat in the past due to habitat destruction. For example, in the 19th century it disappeared as a breeding bird in Poland and only occurs there as a migrant nowadays. Its breeding population in Central Europe apparently was a relict of the last ice age.

wingspan min.: 53 cm wingspan max.: 59 cm
size min.: 25 cm size max.: 28 cm
incubation min.: 28 days incubation max.: 31 days
fledging min.: 25 days fledging max.: 31 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia : Northwest


Nominate race breeds on highland heaths and peatlands. Race altifrons breeds in humid moss, moss and lichen and hummock tundra, shrub tundra, open bogs in forest tundra and alpine tundra. On migration and in winter, occurs on pastures and open agricultural land,such as stubble and fallow fields, and regularly feeds on intertidal flats.


April-May in Britain, May-July further North. Monogamous, with lifelong pair-bond. Solitary, with nests sometimes only few hundred metres apart. Territorial, adults feed mostly outside territory. Breeds in flat and openly vegetated areas.
Nest is shallow scrape, lined with moss and plant material. 4 eggs, incubation 28-31 days. Chick has mottled black and bright yellow upperparts, whitish underparts. Breeds first at 2 years old.

Feeding habits

Mainly invertebrate, especially beetles and earthworms, sometimes plant material. All kinds of insects and their larvae, spiders, millipedes and snails.
Pecks from surface or probes. Sometimes feeds at night. Moves in flocks up to 1000’s. During breeding, flocks are smaller


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Golden Plover status Least Concern


Partially migratory in Britain and Ireland; wholly migratory elsewhere. Populations mix in winter, when combined range comprises western Europe (Britain, Ireland, and Netherlands to Iberia), Mediterranean basin, and thence east and south-east (in small numbers) from Turkey to southern Caspian. Much the most important areas are in western maritime regions (Britain, Ireland, France, Iberia, Maghreb); in mild winters, majority stay in Europe, a few even in western Germany and elsewhere in middle Europe. Main southward movement through temperate Europe October-December. Some move well down Atlantic coast of Morocco and even reach Afrotropics small parties occasional in Gambia, December-February. Breeding areas reoccupied May to early June

Distribution map

Golden Plover distribution range map

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