Snowy Plover

Charadrius alexandrinus

A small plover of beaches and barren ground, the Snowy Plover can be found across North and South America, Eurasia, and Africa. In North America it is restricted to the Gulf and Pacific coasts of the United States, and scattered inland localities from Saskatchewan to California and Texas.

Interesting Information

  • The Snowy Plover frequently raises two broods a year, and sometimes three in places where the breeding season is long. The female deserts her mate and brood about the time the chicks hatch and initiates a new breeding attempt with a different male.

  • Young Snowy Plovers leave their nest within three hours of hatching. They flatten themselves on the ground when a parent signals the approach of people or potential predators. They walk, run, and swim well and forage unassisted by parents, but require periodic brooding for many days after hatching.


Adult Description

  • Small shorebird.

  • Legs moderately long.

  • Neck short.

  • Back pale tan.

  • Underparts white.

  • Dark patches on sides of neck reaching around onto top of chest.

  • Legs dark.

  • Length Range: 15-18 cm (6-7 in)

  • Weight: 40 g (1.4 oz)

  • Size: Small (5 - 9 in)

  • Color Primary: White, Brown

  • Underparts: White

  • Upperparts: Pale Brown

  • Back Pattern: Solid

  • Belly Pattern: Solid

  • Breast Pattern: Solid

Sex Differences

Female slightly drabber


Similar to nonbreeding adult, but with scaly pale edging on back feathers.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Barren to sparsely vegetated sand beaches, dry salt flats in lagoons, dredge spoils deposited on beach or dune habitat, levees and flats at salt-evaporation ponds, river bars, along alkaline or saline lakes, reservoirs, and ponds.


Pauses, looks, runs, and then seizes prey from surface of beach or tide flat. Some probing in sand.


Terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Charadriidae
Genus: Charadrius
Species: Charadrius alexandrinus
    Subspecies: Charadrius alexandrinus alexandrinus
  Charadrius alexandrinus dealbatus
  Charadrius alexandrinus seebohmi

Similar Species

  • Piping Plover has a short, sometimes orange-based bill, a more rounded, "cuter" profile, yellow legs, a thicker chestband, lacks a dark cheek during breeding, and shows a white band across top of tail in flight.

  • Killdeer is larger and has two distinct chest bands.

  • Wilson's Plover is larger, darker on the back, has a thick, complete chestband, and a large, thick bill.

  • Semipalmated Plover has a darker back, yellowish legs, a short and thicker bill that is yellow-based during breeding, and a more rounded, "cuter" profile.

Bird Sound

Call a husky, trilling "purrt," and a whistled "tur-weet," accented on the second syllable.

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution