Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)

Kentish Plover

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Charadriidae | [latin] Charadrius alexandrinus | [UK] Kentish Plover | [FR] Pluvier a collier interrompu | [DE] See-Regenpfeifer | [ES] Chorlitejo patinegro | [NL] Strandplevier


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Charadrius alexandrinus EU, AF, OR widespread
Charadrius alexandrinus alexandrinus w Europe, Atlantic Is. and n Africa to ne China n Africa, s Asia
Charadrius alexandrinus dealbatus s Japan, e and se China to Philippines and Borneo
Charadrius alexandrinus seebohmi s India, Sri Lanka

Physical charateristics

Kentish Plovers are small and inconspicuous, weighing about two ounces, with a 13-inch wingspan, and a length of six to seven inches. They have white undersides and buff-colored upperparts that blend in with their sandy surroundings. In breeding plumage, males have a black bar across the front of the crown, a dark stripe behind each eye, and black side patches. Females are similar, but somewhat drabber, with brown markings. The birds have dark legs and black bills.

Listen to the sound of Kentish Plover

[audio: Plover.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 32 cm wingspan max.: 35 cm
size min.: 15 cm size max.: 17 cm
incubation min.: 24 days incubation max.: 27 days
fledging min.: 27 days fledging max.: 27 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


Eurasia, Africa, Oriental Region : widespread


Kentish Plovers inhabit sandy beaches and salt flats throughout much of the world, where they nest in shallow depressions on bare, open ground. On the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico Coasts, they are found on barren beaches, dry salt flats in lagoons, dredge spoils deposited on beaches or dunes, levees and flats at salt-evaporation ponds, and river sand bars. Inland populations live along alkaline or saline lakes, reservoirs, ponds, and braided river channels. In Florida, where most birds live on sandy beaches, a few have been found using paved parking lots at Eglin Air Force Base.


Kentish Plovers typically begin breeding their first year. Both sexes actively defend their territories from predators and intruders by posturing, chasing, or fighting. The birds often form loose colonies; their nests are simple scrapes on bare open ground, frequently located near a conspicuous object like a clam shell, a piece of kelp, or driftwood. Nests are lined with pebbles, bits of shell, fish bones, grass, and other debris. Clutches normally consist of three eggs, buff colored, lightly to moderately covered with small spots and scrawls, mostly dark brown to black, with some gray. Eggs weigh about a fifth of the female’s weight and both parents incubate the eggs for 25 to 32 days. Some West Coast populations may raise two broods a year, and if the breeding season is long enough, even three. Chicks are soon able to feed themselves. Parents lead them to foraging areas and act as sentinels and protectors until they fledge approximately four weeks later.

Feeding habits

Coastal Kentish Plovers feed on tiny aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, including crustaceans, mollusks, marine worms, and insects. Interior populations eat mainly insects. The birds often forage in loose flocks by pausing, looking, running, and then pecking to seize prey. They also probe in sand for food, or charge with open mouths to capture flies.


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.
Kentish Plover status Least Concern


Nominate race mainly migratory N of 40 degrees N, dispersive and resident to S; winters in S Eurasia, Africa N of Equator (where most birds occur on coast) to Indonesia. W European breeders winter mainly in SW Europe; origin of large numbers of W African winterers not known. Dispersal from breeding grounds starts immediately after fledging of young from late Jun, and southward migration peaks in Sept; passage through Morocco in Sept, and largest number of Banc d’Arguin (Mauritania) in Oct, passage through E Mediterranean in Sept. NW African breeding grounds reoccupied Mar-Apr or May, and northernmost breeding areas in Kyrgyzstan from May. Race dealbatus has been reported wintering on Philippines and N Borneo. Race nivosus partly migratory, some birds wintering outside breeding range on W & E coasts of Mexico and S to Panama; inland breeders move to coast. race seebohmi and occidentalis sedentary.

Distribution map

Kentish Plover distribution range map

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