Three-banded Plover (Charadrius tricollaris)

It is a small, dark plover that thrives in freshwater and brackish wetland easily recognizable with its broad forehead, and white and two black bands on its breast. This bird agilely along water surfaces and edges, searching for food and pecking spotted prey. It has a renowned card, a quick rasping series of “kreet” sound, and a sharp, pitchy “weet-weet” as it flies off.

Read further to know more about the Three-banded Plover.

What is a Three-banded Plover?

Three-banded plover (Charadrius tricollaris), also known as the three-banded sand plover, is a small wader from the Charadriidae family. It is a resident bird in Madagascar and Africa. The species is often seen alone but may form small flocks, thriving near water bodies and foraging for worms, insects, and other invertebrates.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Charadriidae

Genus: Charadrius

Species: C. tricollaris

Three-banded Plover Physical Description

Three-banded plovers are small-sized birds, growing up to 7 inches or 18 centimeters and weighing around 28 to 49 grams. Its forehead is white while the nape and crown are dark brown, circled by a white stripe. Cheeks, neck sides, hindneck, and lores are duller brown, becoming whitish on the throat, foreneck, and the chin.

Its upperparts and head are dark brown. The bird’s upperwing displays a short, white edge and a thin wingbar that are noticeable in flight. Its tail has a white tip and sides.

It got its name from its underparts, which shows three bands: two black breast bands separated by a third white stripe. The axillaries, underwings are all white, slightly brown on the outer tectrices while coverts on the undertail are also white.

Three-banded plover’s bill has a pinkish-red tone with a black tip. Eyes can be pale brown to golden, circled by a conspicuous red-orange eyering. Feet and legs are dull pinkish-brown.

Where can they be spotted?

Three-banded plovers thrive in muddy or gravelly grounds, wetland fringes, and inland water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and pools. The species rarely occur in coastal lagoons, estuaries, and brackish inland waters, roosting and nesting on stony grounds up the shore. They can be found from Eritrea, to Tanzania, Gabon, DR Congo, and South Africa.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Three-banded Plover

Three-banded Plovers’ diet revolves primarily on aquatic invertebrates, insects and larvae, mollusks, worms, and small crustaceans. Occasionally, they also consume land invertebrates. It hunts on open shores, running or foot-trembling to disturb prey, stopping, and picking prey from the water surface. They pluck victims at around 10-40 times each minute.

The species is solitary but may mix with other small waders. However, they can also flock up, consisting of around 40 individuals and foraging day in and day out.

Like its plover cousins, the three-banded plovers are monogamous and will form life-long bonds with their partner. They are pretty territorial and will run or fly off to intruders to ward them off. These birds may also bob its head up and down, followed by a pitchy whistle as its defense display.

Three-banded plovers’ season differs on the population’s range. However, these birds lay eggs almost throughout the year, peaking from July to December. Pairs construct the nest in a shallow depression on shingle, sand, or dry mud. Nest materials used are plant pieces, dried items, pebbles, and other debris.

The female-three banded plover will lay 1-2 eggs. Parents will share the incubation responsibility for about 26-28 days. The females incubate the eggs during the day with the male defending the area. They will switch places at night, while the female forages and feeds.

After hatching, the broods will be able to fly in about three to four weeks and remain under parental care for 40-42 days. Three-banded plovers often lay two clutches annually.

Three-banded plovers are adaptable and tolerant to disturbance, and the construction of artificial water bodies benefited them by providing them new habitats. The species is currently evaluated as Least Concern under the IUCN Red List.



Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Chobe National Park

Linyanti Swamp

Makgadikgadi Pan

Mashatu Game Reserve

Okavango Delta

Moremi Game Reserve



Addo Elephant National Park

Cape Peninsula National Park

Hluhluwe Game Reserves

Kalahari Gemsbok National Park

Knysna Lagoon

Kruger National Park

Madikwe Game Reserve

St Lucia Wetlands


Caprivi Region


Etosha National Park

Namib-Naukluft National Park

Skeleton Coast



Lechwe Plains

Lower Zambezi

South Luangwa

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park




Lake Kariba

Mana Pools

Matobo Hills

Victoria Falls


Three-banded Plover
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