|Conservation status||Seriously depleted by unrestricted shooting in late 19th century, but has recovered well, currently widespread and common.|
|Habitat||Shores, tideflats. Favors very open habitats on migration, including broad mudflats, sandy beaches, lake shores, pools in salt marsh; sometimes in flooded fields or even plowed fields with other shorebirds. Tends to avoid flats overgrown with too much marsh vegetation. Breeds in the north, mostly on open flats of sand or gravel near water.|
Typically they run a few steps and then pause, then run again, pecking at the ground whenever they spot something edible. Will sometimes hold one foot forward and shuffle it rapidly over the surface of sand or mud, as if to startle small creatures into moving.
4, rarely 3. Olive-buff to olive-brown, blotched with black and brown. Incubation is by both sexes, 23-25 days. Young: Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Both parents tend young, but young find all their own food. Age at first flight about 23-31 days.
Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Both parents tend young, but young find all their own food. Age at first flight about 23-31 days.
Insects, crustaceans, worms. Diet varies with season and location. In breeding season and during migration inland, may feed mostly on insects, including flies and their larvae, also earthworms. On coast, eats many marine worms, crustaceans, small mollusks.
In breeding season, male displays over territory by flying in wide circles with slow, exaggerated wingbeats, calling repeatedly. On ground, male may display by crouching with tail spread, wings open, and feathers fluffed up, while he gives calls with an excited sound. Nest site is on ground, amid sparse plant growth or on bare open gravel or sand, sometimes placed close to large rock or other landmark. Nest is shallow scrape in ground, sometimes lined with small leaves, other debris.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Migrates mostly late in spring and early in fall, with peak southbound flights in August. Has a very extensive winter range, along coasts from United States to southern South America.
- 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.Learn more
Songs and CallsA plaintive 2-note whistle, tu-wee. Also a soft, rather musical rattle.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Semipalmated Plover
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Semipalmated 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.