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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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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

See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

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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.