Pluvialis Squatarola – Black-Bellied Plover

Pluvialis Squatarola - Black-Bellied Plover found in the eastern part of United States

Gray plover or also known as the Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis Squatarola in Latin is a medium-sized plover that breeds in Arctic areas. They belong to the family of Charadriidae. When not reproducing, it is a long-distance migratory with an almost global coastal range.

Quick Overview: Pluvialis Squatarola – Black-Bellied Plover
Body size: Around 11.5-13 in (29-33 cm) and a weight of 320 g (11.28 oz)
Main colors: White, Black, Brown
Range: Eastern 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

Black-Bellied Plover Description

Males have noticeable alternate plumage: upperparts are white, mottled, and barred with black; females have more subtle patterns, often pale and dark brown. Males have pure black underparts from chin to upper abdomen; females have a heavy mix of black and white.

Pluvialis Squatarola - Black-Bellied Plover found in the eastern part of United States
Pluvialis Squatarola – Black-Bellied Plover. Photo by: Jason Crotty

Size

These birds have a length of 11.5-13 in (29-33 cm) and a weight of 320 g (11.28 oz). Their wings could range from 22-25 in (56-64 cm).

Feeding

Black-bellied Plovers eat on polychaete worms, bivalves, and crustaceans on their wintering grounds. They feed mostly on insects on their nesting grounds.

Habitat

The black-bellied plover is frequently found around coastlines, most often on wide mudflats and beaches, as well as adjacent farms. Though it is often found around these coasts, it will eat on interior plains and freshwater environments, particularly during migration.

Behavior

They hunt visually rather than with their senses, as do longer-billed waders such as snipes. They mostly feed on insects, worms, and other invertebrates, depending on the habitat, which they collect by a run-and-pause approach rather than the constant probing technique used by certain other wader families.

Pluvialis Squatarola Scientific Classification

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

Other common names

Also known as the Gray Plover.

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 Black-Bellied Plover in the USA

Breeds in western and northern Alaska, as well as the Arctic region of Canada. Winters mostly along the coastlines between British Columbia and Massachusetts and southern Mexico and the West Indies. During migration, these birds could be seen in the eastern part of the United States Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

The Black-Bellied Plover can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Pluvialis Squatarola – Black-Bellied Plover

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