Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

It is a plump-sized shorebird with a stout bill. Its orange-yellow legs are conspicuous, more vivid on adults. It thrives in stony and sandy substrates along lakeshores, mudflats, estuaries, and beaches. Then, moving in the winter, roosting with other small wading birds.

Read further to know more about the Ringed Plover.

What is a Ringed Plover?

Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) or the common ringed plover is a small plover that belongs to the Charadriidae family. It resembles the Semipalmated Plover from North America, and it is the Eurasian version of the said species. It can breed up to Northeastern Canada and Greenland but winters in Africa, SW Asia, and the Caspian Sea.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Charadriidae

Genus: Charadrius

Species: C. hiaticula

Ringed Plover Physical Description

Ringed Plovers are chunky birds, growing from 7 to 7.8 inches, weighing about 42 to 78 grams, with a wingspan of 18.8 to 22.44 inches or 48 to 57 centimeters.

The birds’ upperparts, such as scapulars, wing tetrices, crown, mantle, uppertail covers, and tertials, are all pale brown, accentuated by white rump sides and exterior rectrices. Meanwhile, greater coverts have white edges, with the rest also displaying a thin whitish border.

Their white wingbar stands out, composed of white shafts and blackish primary and secondary feathers. The birds’ underparts are white, but a black breast occurs stretching until the hindneck’s base. Underwings, chin, and throat are white.

Lores, forehead’s base, frontal bar, and ear coverts are all black, but the rest of the forehead is white. Their bill is orange-yellow with a black tip, which can be paler outside the breeding period. Legs and feet are also orange-yellow but brighter, though its feet are missing the basal web between the outer and middle toes. Eyes are dark brown, circled by a thin, pale yellow-orange eyering.

Female ringed plovers are relatively lighter with browned ear covers and breast band. Offsprings are also duller with buffier fringes. Head pattern and breast band are also brownish.

Where can they be spotted?

Ringed Plovers thrive on sandy and shingle coastal beaches, mudflats, sandbars, saltpans, marshes, and estuaries. They can also occur in inland bodies of waters, such as lakes and rivers, on open tundras with less vegetation, usually situated near farmland and meadows.

The species occurs across northern Eurosiberia, northeast Canada, and Greenland. Other populations breed inland in Europe. While other groups are residents in northern France and Great Britain, the majority of these migratory plovers winters in Africa, SW Asia, and the Caspian Sea.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Ringed Plover

Ringed Plovers feed primarily on invertebrates and crustaceans. Other food items it consumes include beetles, flies, ants, insect larvae, aquatic worms, and isopods.

It uses a ‘foot-trembling’ technique in the water, tapping one foot on the ground rapidly to mimic rainfall and attract prey to the surface. Aside from the distinct prey-catching method, these birds are also equipped with strong eyesight, allowing them to find prey easier.

These birds forage day and night, usually in small groups consisting of up to 50 individuals. However, they may also occasionally occur in larger aggregations composed of 1200-1500 birds. Then, ringed plovers also roost together close to their feeding ground.

The Ringed Plovers are seasonally monogamous, though it may sometimes last for longer periods. These birds perform various displays in flight during the breeding season, such as slow wingbeats accompanied by a song.

Ringed Plovers are migrant birds, and the northernmost group moves south to winter in Africa, Southwest Asia, or the Caspian. Other populations in Europe may be sedentary in their breeding grounds. They return to their breeding locations between late March to May.

The egg-laying season occurs from April to July, varying on the range. These birds may nest either in loosely-structured groups or singly. The nest is built on a shallow depression on the ground, lined with vegetation and pebbles. Both sexes defend the nest by calling loudly and attacking intruders. Otherwise, they also fake injuries or do “broken wings” display to lure the predator away from the eggs or the chicks.

The female ringed plover lays a clutch of 3-4 brown speckled eggs, which the parents will incubate for around 23-25 days. After hatching, the broods will rely on the adults for food and protection but will be able to fly soon in about 24 days.

While their population size is fluctuating markedly, Ringed Plovers are evaluated as Least Concern (LC) under the IUCN Red List.



Central Kalahari Game Reserve

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Lechwe Plains

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Ringed Plover