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Wilson's Plover

Charadrius wilsonia

TAXONOMY

ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES,
FAMILY: CHARADRIIDAE
Wilson's Plovers are found in North and South America, and three subspecies are recognized across their range. C. w. wilsoni is the subspecies found in Florida and along other parts of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

 

DESCRIPTION

Size.
Medium-sized shorebird (Length 16-20cm; Wingspan 39-49cm; Mass 55-70g). Slightly larger than a Snowy Plover and smaller than a Killdeer.
Appearance.
Plover with single chest band and large thick bill.
Sex differences.
Wilson's Plovers are sexually dimorphic (males and females differ in appearance), mainly in breeding plumage. During nesting season, breast band, lores, and fore-crown of males is bold and black, while females retain the non-breeding look (brown face-patttern and breast band).
Age differences.
Juveniles are difficult to distinguish from adults in non-breeding plumage. Close inspection of median coverts (see below for first winter) is necessary- juvenile coverts are pale and neatly fringed.
Similar Species.
Often confused with several of the small plover species that occur in Florida. Learn how to differentiate the plovers with guide produced for the annual Snowy Plover Survey, go here.

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RANGE

Entire range.
Strictly coastal, North and South America. See range map for North America or Western Hemisphere.
Breeding range.
In U.S., breeds along the Atlantic Coast, Gulf Coast, and the southern part of Pacific Coast. Also a permanent resident of marine coastlines throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Migration.
Largely resident though birds in the northern portion of range (Atlantic and Gulf Coast) shift south in the winter.
Non-breeding range.
Peninsular Florida, Caribbean, Baja, and coasts of Central and N. South America.
Florida.
Birds breed from April to July all along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. In winter, birds found more along the coasts of penisular Florida- may include migrants from further North .

STATUS and CONSERVATION

In general.
Locally common in Florida.
Threats.
Major threats to the species in Florida (and U.S.) is destruction of breeding habitat by development of beachfront areas, and disturbance of nesting and roosting sites from various forms of beach recreation-beachgoers, pets, and vehicles.
Management.
Efforts need to focus on protecting nesting, foraging, and roosting habitat. In some cases, predator control is needed. Nesting areas are best protected by excluding humans.
Status.
U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan- Species of High Concern; IUCN- Least Concern.

LINKS

All About Birds (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)- Wilson's Plover
Florida Breeding Bird Atlas- Wilson's Plover Species Account
Internet Bird Collection- pics, videos, and recordings of Wilson's Plovers
Wikipedia- Wilson's Plover
VIREO Visual Resources- many photos of Wilson's Plovers
BirdLife International Fact Sheet- Wilson's Plover


FWC Audubon UFWS