This common winter visitor is one of the shyer shorebirds and is often one of the first to take flight when approached. It primarily feeds on small crabs and sandworms. This is the only plover that breeds exclusively in the Arctic. The difference in breeding and non-breeding plumage is so dramatic that it's hard to believe you're looking at the same bird.
General: Sexes similar. Bold white wing patch. Black underwing patches visible during flight. 10 to 13 inches in length.
Adult Alternate: Black face, throat and breast. White border around face and throat. Pale gray crown and nape. White belly, rump and undertail coverts. Black, gray and white spotted back and wings. Black legs. Short, fairly thick, dark bill.
Adult Basic: Medium gray upperparts. White underparts, rump and supercilium. Pale gray breast. Black legs. Short, fairly thick, dark bill.
Juvenile: Similar to adult basic, but with upperparts being more contrasty. Finely streaked breast.
Winters on beaches, mudflats, and coastal marshes. Found less commonly on inland marshes and lakeshores. Breeds on tundra.
3-4 buff eggs with brown spots. The eggs have a 26-27 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 35-45 days. The nest is a shallow ground depression lined with moss, lichens, and grass.
- Crown Point, Mission Bay
- Fiesta Island, Mission Bay
- San Diego River Flood Control Channel, San Diego
- San Elijo Lagoon, Cardiff-by-the-Sea