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Semipalmated Plover

Charadrius semipalmatus

Length: 7 inches Wingspan: 14 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Single black neck band, black mask with white above bill, short black-tipped orange bill, yellow-orange legs

Semipalmated Plover - Charadrius semipalmatusThe Semipalmated Plover is the most common of the small plovers that migrate through the state.  The name "Semipalmated" refers to the partial webbing found between the bird's toes.  Unlike many other shorebirds that migrate simultaneously as the Semipalmated Plover, they do not probe in the mud for food items, instead only plucking items from the surface.

Habitat: Prefers very open habitats during migration through the state, such as open mudflats, sandy beaches, or plowed fields.  Avoids wetland areas with heavy vegetation.   At breeding grounds in northern North America, they prefer sandy or mossy tundra.

Diet: Insects, earthworms, small mollusks and crustaceans.  Also marine worms and various marine animal eggs on wintering grounds.

Behavior: Usually moves quickly along the shoreline, walking quickly and periodically pausing, grabbing food items when spotted.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota.  In their breeding range in northern North America, they build a simple scrape nest on the ground, sometimes lined with a bit of vegetation.  The female lays 4 eggs, and both parents help to incubate them.  After the eggs hatch, the young quickly leave the nest.  They are tended to by both parents, but they find their own food.

Song: Crisp rising chweep.

Migration: Summers in northern Canada and Alaska.  Winters along U.S. coasts all the way down through South America.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird  map of Semipalmated Plover sightings

Similar Species: Killdeer, Piping Plover.

Conservation Status: Like many of the shorebirds, numbers were seriously depleted during the 19th century due to hunting.  Has recovered and is now widespread and common.  The IUCN lists the Semipalmated Plover as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Semipalmated Plover

2) WhatBird - Semipalmated Plover

3) Audubon Guide - Semipalmated Plover

Photo Information: August 17th, 2013 - Lake County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Semipalmated Plover photos.

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Range Map - Semipalmated Plover
South Dakota Status: Uncommon migrant throughout the state.

Additional Semipalmated Plover Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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