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American Golden Plover

Pluvialis dominica

Length: 10 - 11 inches Wingspan: 18 - 22 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: In summer, dark below, dark face, white stripe over eye extending down the neck, dark upperparts with dappled golden spots

American Golden Plover - Pluvialis dominicaThe American Golden Plover is one of the longest-distance migrants, summering on the Arctic Tundra, and wintering in southern South America. Most common as a spring migrant through the state, with most fall birds flying directly from eastern Canada to South America.  The American Golden Plover was once much more common than it is presently.

Habitat: During migration through South Dakota, generally found on plowed fields and prairies with short or grazed grass.  They are only occasionally found on mudflats and marshy areas.  Breeds on the Arctic Tundra in summer.

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects.  Will also feed on seeds, small crustaceans, small mollusks, and occasionally berries.

Behavior: Often found foraging on the ground in plowed fields and other agricultural land, as well as heavily grazed areas. 

Nesting: The nest of an American Golden Plover is a shallow scrape on the ground in the tundra, lined with mosses and other bits of vegetation.  Three or four eggs are laid, tightly placed in a circle in the nest to aid retention of warmth.  Males incubate the eggs during the day, while females incubate them at night. The young hatch after about 4 weeks.

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of American Golden Plover sightings

Song: Loud rich whistling quee-dol

Migration: A long-distance migrant, summering in the Arctic Tundra, and wintering in South America.

Similar Species: Black-bellied Plover, Pacific Golden-Plover

South Dakota "Hotspot" - Numbers migrating through South Dakota seem to vary substantially from year to year.  There's no reliable location to find them, but they often are found in wet or flooded farm fields during the spring migration. They can also be found near shallow water with nearby mudflats.

Conservation Status:   Populations were decimated due to 19th-century hunting pressures.  Numbers have never recovered to historical levels, and diminishing habitat in their South American wintering grounds is possibly causing further declines. Despite the declines, populations still are relatively strong, and the IUCN considers the American Golden Plover to be a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) BirdWeb - American Golden Plover

2) Audubon - American Golden Plover

3) WhatBird - American Golden Plover

Photo Information: Photo taken on May 12th, 2018 - Lincoln County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Range Map - American Golden Plover
South Dakota Status: Common spring and uncommon fall migrant in the eastern half of the state, rare to accidental migrant in the western half
Additional American Golden Plover Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
American Golden Plover - Pluvialis dominicaAmerican Golden Plover - Pluvialis dominicaAmerican Golden Plover - Pluvialis dominicaAmerican Golden Plover - Pluvialis dominicaAmerican Golden Plover - Pluvialis dominicaAmerican Golden Plover - Pluvialis dominicaAmerican Golden Plover - Pluvialis dominicaAmerican Golden Plover - Pluvialis dominica