The Mountain Plover is poorly named, as it is
primarily found in the short-grass prairies of the western Plains. Despite
being considered one of the "shorebirds", they are often many miles
from any water source. They have disappeared throughout much of their
former range and are still in decline, due to loss of their short-grass prairie
habitat. Some have learned to utilize over-grazed pastures in the
West. It is probable that Mountain Plovers were once breeding in western
South Dakota. They still have breeding sites nearby in eastern Wyoming.
Habitat: Favors very open areas such as
short-grass prairie, over-grazed pastures, and even bare soil. Is often
strongly associated with the relatively barren areas in and around prairie dog
towns. In the winter, they can be found in a variety of open habitats
including plowed fields and desert salt flats.
Diet: Primarily insects.
Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota
Song: Low dry krrrr, as well as a thin
Migration: Summers on flat open plains from
northern Montana southward through New Mexico, in areas that were
historically short-grass prairie. Winters locally in the extreme
Southwestern U.S. and California, and northern Mexico.
Status: Numbers have declined greatly as native short-grass prairie has been converted
to agricultural lands. Historically, nesting Mountain Plovers often preferred
the short vegetation found in and around prairie dog towns. Declines in
Mountain Plovers may be linked to severe declines in prairie dog populations as
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Mountain Plover"
Photo Information: Photo courtesy of Doug