Photo: Hanne & Jens Eriksen/Vireo

Pacific Golden-Plover

Pluvialis fulva

This bird is so similar to American Golden-Plover that the two were regarded as one species until 1993. However, the birds can tell the difference: where the two forms overlap in western Alaska, they seldom or never interbreed. Their migratory routes are strikingly different: American Golden-Plover migrates to South America, while Pacific Golden-Plover flies from Alaska to islands in the Pacific and often on to Australia, regularly covering over 2,000 miles in a single nonstop flight.
Conservation status Formerly hunted during migration in Hawaii, now protected and occurs in good numbers. Large numbers of shorebirds are killed for food in some parts of eastern Asia, including Pacific Golden-Plovers in at least a few areas. Wintering areas on Pacific islands vulnerable to sea level rise caused by climate change.
Family Plovers
Habitat Tundra (summer); short-grass fields, mudflats, shores during migration. During migration, often on extensive areas of short grass, flooded pastures, as well as on mudflats, beaches. In winter in Hawaii, often forages on lawns. In western Alaska, where the two golden-plovers overlap in summer, the Pacific typically nests at lower elevations than the American, on wetter tundra with taller vegetation.
This bird is so similar to American Golden-Plover that the two were regarded as one species until 1993. However, the birds can tell the difference: where the two forms overlap in western Alaska, they seldom or never interbreed. Their migratory routes are strikingly different: American Golden-Plover migrates to South America, while Pacific Golden-Plover flies from Alaska to islands in the Pacific and often on to Australia, regularly covering over 2,000 miles in a single nonstop flight.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male, breeding
  • adult female, breeding
  • immature (1st winter)
  • adult, nonbreeding
  • adult, molting to breeding plumage
  • adult male, breeding
Feeding Behavior

Typically they walk or run a few steps and then pause, then move forward again, pecking at the ground whenever they spot something edible.


Eggs

4. Pale buff to cinnamon, boldly blotched with black and brown, well camouflaged when seen against varied tundra vegetation. Incubation is by both parents, about 25 days. Male reportedly incubates by day, female at night. Young: Downy young leave nest shortly after hatching. Both parents tend young, but young find all their own food. Age at first flight about 26-28 days.


Young

Downy young leave nest shortly after hatching. Both parents tend young, but young find all their own food. Age at first flight about 26-28 days.

Diet

Mostly insects, also mollusks, crustaceans, berries. On breeding grounds, feeds mostly on insects, including beetles, flies, and others, also some berries. In migration in open fields, eats wide variety of insects, including grasshoppers, caterpillars. On shores, also feeds on small crustaceans and mollusks. During migration seasons, may eat many berries.


Nesting

Males perform flight display over breeding territory by flying high, with exaggerated slow, deep wingbeats, while giving a repeated, plaintive teee-chewee whistle. Nest site is on ground, on dry ground often surrounded by wet tundra. Nest (probably built by male) is shallow depression in tundra, lined with lichens, moss, grass, leaves.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

In fall, most Pacific Golden-Plovers from Alaska probably make nonstop flight to Hawaii; some winter there, others continue to other islands, Australia, or New Zealand. Small numbers occur along west coast of Canada and United States, mostly in fall, a few spending the winter.

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Migration

In fall, most Pacific Golden-Plovers from Alaska probably make nonstop flight to Hawaii; some winter there, others continue to other islands, Australia, or New Zealand. Small numbers occur along west coast of Canada and United States, mostly in fall, a few spending the winter.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A mellow quee-lee-lee.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Plovers Sandpiper-like Birds

Pacific Golden-Plover

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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