Bird GuidePloversPacific Golden-Plover

At a Glance

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.
Plovers, Sandpiper-like Birds
Low Concern
Coasts and Shorelines, Saltwater Wetlands, Tundra and Boreal Habitats
Alaska and The North, California, Northwest, Western Canada
Direct Flight, Rapid Wingbeats, Running

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

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.


9-11" (23-28 cm). Very similar to American Golden-Plover, not always identifiable. In breeding plumage, Pacific shows more white below, in stripe extending along sides. Fall and winter birds usually look brighter, more golden, and have shorter wingtips than Americans.
About the size of a Crow, About the size of a Robin
Black, Tan, White, Yellow
Wing Shape
Pointed, Tapered
Tail Shape
Rounded, Short, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

A mellow quee-lee-lee.
Call Pattern
Call Type


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.



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.


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.

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.


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.

Climate Vulnerability

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.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Pacific Golden-Plover. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Pacific Golden-Plover

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.