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Plovers are not big birds. The largest is about the size of a pigeon but most are smaller than American Robins or European Blackbirds. They are mostly wetland edge birds; both coastal and fresh water. In Africa there are larger plovers now called lapwings – they used to be called plovers. Even in Africa there are still smallish birds that are called plovers; but the larger ones have been reclassified as lapwings. Anyway below are a few plovers from around the world, these are the smaller members of this group, the lapwings will have to wait their turn.
In the USA the plover that most people see is the Killdeer which is not one of the smallest. Killdeer are found coast to coast in the US and are very common in agricultural areas. But the plover that creates the most press coverage is the small pale gray Piping Plover. This little bird is threatened or endangered in most of the US and thus gets preferential treatment on our beaches. This special treatment is good for the nesting birds but is an impediment to wind-surfing, ORV driving, and other beach uses can that threaten the reproductive success of the bird. Walking and fishing are OK but sometimes vehicular access is limited so the babies don’t get run over and the adults don’t get forced off the nests.
Here are a few plovers from around the world and a bit on their life styles – the Piping Plover will be the last one shown and is also the bird that is at the head of this post. Due to their tendency to nest in areas that humans also enjoy they are in danger from our motorized vehicles and our pets. Not all are technically listed as endangered or threatened but they are almost always in the way of something or someone. Please watch out for them and respect their needs.