Pluvialis Dominica – American Golden-Plover

Pluvialis Dominica - American Golden-Plover found in the United States

The American golden plover is a medium-sized plover, Pluvialis Dominica. The genus name is Latin and derives from the word pluvia, which means “rain.” Golden plovers were supposed to congregate when rain was coming. The genus name Dominica is derived from Santo Domingo, which is today known as Hispaniola in the West Indies. It belongs to the family of Charadriidae.

Quick Overview: Pluvialis Dominica – American Golden-Plover
Body size: Around 10-11 in (25-28 cm) and a weight of 145 g (5.1 oz)
Main colors: Gray-Brown, Gray, White, Black, Yellow
Range: Throughout the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: March, April, May, September, October, November
Conservation Status: Least Concern

American Golden-Plover Description

The American golden plovers are quite similar to the Pacific golden plovers, and the two were first considered to be the same species. Both have gray-brown wing undersides and nearly comparable wing sizes. American golden plovers have a longer, thinner body with a shorter neck and a larger head. They also have a shorter tibia than their bill and a shorter bill relative to their head size. During the winter mating season, American golden plovers resemble black-bellied plovers, but are more golden (Yellow) in color. Their undersides are speckled gray and white (grayer than black-bellied plovers), and their head, back, and tail feathers are speckled golden, white, and black. American golden plovers become more golden on their back and head during the non-breeding season. Males are significantly more colorful than females, as they lack a wing stripe.

Pluvialis Dominica - American Golden-Plover found in the United States
Pluvialis Dominica – American Golden-Plover, Photo by: Scott Heron


These birds have a length of 10-11 in (25-28 cm) and a weight of 145 g (5.1 oz). Their wings could range from 18-22 in (46-56 cm).


The American golden plovers consume entire meals and feed in a “run-stop-peck” rhythm. Due to the absence of nerve endings at the tip of their beaks, they rely on their hard, pointed beaks to rapidly and aggressively capture prey. Their beaks are composed of generally unspecialized muscles that contribute to the strength with which prey is caught and the range of movement of their jaw muscles. Additionally, they have powerful neck muscles that help them maintain an upright posture and boost the force with which they grip prey.


Golden plovers in the United States are found in temperate grassland habitats. During the winter, American golden plovers may be spotted in the adjacent grasslands along the Rio de la Plata. They move to polar tundra regions in the spring.


American golden plovers normally fly non-stop between breeding and wintering areas, until they face adverse weather over the Bahamas. Certain folks spend the winter in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and northern South America. Additional persons may make a brief halt en route to relax. Adults migrate several weeks ahead of youngsters. Additionally, adult females migrate somewhat earlier than adult men. When returning to their nesting grounds, American golden plovers make a brief stop in Texas before flying up the length of the country.

Pluvialis Dominica Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Charadriidae
  • Genus: Pluvialis
  • Species: Pluvialis dominica

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds are during the Spring season (March-May) and during the Autumn season (September – November).

Distribution of the American Golden-Plover in the USA

This species is one of the most widely distributed birds on the planet, breeding on tundra from Alaska to Baffin Island and migrating south through the Atlantic Ocean from the Canadian Maritimes to South America; some birds winter on Pacific islands and appear along the west coast during migration.

The American Golden-Plover can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Pluvialis Dominica – American Golden-Plover

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