Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

Grey Plover

[order] Charadriiformes | [family] Charadriidae | [latin] Pluvialis squatarola | [UK] Grey Plover | [FR] Pluvier argente | [DE] Kiebitzregenpfeifer | [ES] Chorlito de Vientre Negro | [IT] Pivieressa | [NL] Zilverplevier


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Charadrius squatarola
Pluvialis squatarola NA, EU n worldwide
Pluvialis squatarola cynosurae n Canada coastal North and South America
Pluvialis squatarola squatarola n Eurasia and Alaska w and s Europe, Africa, s and e Asia, Australasia, w Americas
Pluvialis squatarola tomkovichi Wrangel I. (ne Siberia)

Physical charateristics

Sparkling silver upperparts with contrasting black underparts, black axillaries conspicuous in flight. Larger, chunkier and much greyer than congeners.
The Grey Plover breeding adult male is solid black from chin to belly. The upperparts are white or white mottled with black. The female is more brownish than black. Juveniles and birds in non-breeding plumage are speckled grey-brown above with a grey-brown breast and white belly. A white rump is visible in all plumages. The breast and sides are heavily streaked in the juvenile. In flight, black axillaries contrast with white under-wing coverts.

Listen to the sound of Grey Plover

[audio: Plover.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 59 cm wingspan max.: 60 cm
size min.: 28 cm size max.: 29 cm
incubation min.: 26 days incubation max.: 27 days
fledging min.: 35 days fledging max.: 45 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 4  


Breeds along Arctic coast, from western Alaska to Baffin Island. Also across northern Eurasia. Winters from British Columbia and Massachusetts southward along coasts of United States and Central America, Bermuda, and West Indies, to southern coastal South America. Also from southern Europe and Asia to southern Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. In Suriname migrant of the mudflats along the coast


Preferred nesting habitat is wet tundra adjacent to dry or stony ground; selects nest sites in light-colored moss and lichens. Ouside breeding season mudflats, beaches, salinas, wet savanna, shores of ponds and lakes, wet meadows, flooded fields and sometimes mangroves or rocky shores. During migration, also frequents inland lakes and pools and more rarely grassland. Wintering birds roost in large flocks, of up to several thousand, in salt-marshes and on sandbanks and beaches


The Grey Plover nests on dry tundra, often on a raised area with good visibility. The male begins a scrape nest, and the female lines it with pebbles and bits of vegetation. Females typically lay four eggs, and both parents incubate. The young may forage within 12 hours, but tend to stay in the nest longer than other shorebirds. Both parents care for the young and have one brood per season. Breeding begins late May in southwest to late June in north part of range. Both sexes usually incubate 4 eggs for 26-27 days. Nestlings precocial. Parent depart before fledging at about 23 days.

Feeding habits

Grey Plovers often roost and fly in flocks, but spread out when foraging. In winter, they commonly feed in association with Dunlin. Like other plovers, Grey plovers are visual feeders, but they may also probe for hidden prey.
On tundra while breeding, mainly insects, occasionally some grass seeds and stems.
In winter, takes marine polychaete worms, molluscs, crustaceans, occasional insects and earthworms. Primarily feeds on intertidal flats at low tide.
Sometimes feeds at night. Most frequently alone or in small parties of up to 30 birds. In winter quarters, some birds defend feeding territories, to which they return yearly, similar pattern during spring migration.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 690,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Grey Plover status Least Concern


Migratory. Some winter in Europe, but total winter range extends to coasts of South America, Africa, southern Asia, and Australia. Those occurring in west Palearctic come from breeding population of northern Russia; many continue south to African winter quarters.
Departures from breeding grounds mainly in August, migrants occurring on White Sea from late July to mid-October; further south in FSU, mainly August-October. Peak numbers occur at Dutch Wadden sea in first half September and on the Wash (England) in late August. Arrival of juveniles on the Wash starts early September, about 6 weeks after first adults, as in Sweden. Spring departures from South Africa start February-March, and from Morocco from early April. Some wintering areas in western Europe may be left rather early¾e.g. February onwards¾but spring migration here generally fairly late: April to late May on the Wash.

Distribution map

Grey Plover range map


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