Wilson's Plover

Charadrius wilsonia

A medium-sized plover of ocean beaches, the Wilson's Plover has a single chest band and a large, thick bill. The large bill helps it catch and eat larger prey items than other plovers on the beach.

Interesting Information

  • Wilson's Plover is named for early ornithologist Alexander Wilson, who collected the type specimen in May 1813 at Cape May, NJ, where this species is (and was) only a rare visitor.

  • No known trends in populations. Listed as threatened or endangered in some states.

  • They will resort to feigning injury, such as a broken wing, to distract potential predators.

  • A group of plovers has many collective nouns, including a "brace", "congregation", "deceit", "ponderance" and "wing" of plovers.


Adult Description

  • Medium-sized shorebird.

  • Legs moderately long.

  • Neck short.

  • Back brown.

  • Underparts white with one thick black or brown band on chest.

  • Length Range: 18-20 cm (7-8 in)

  • Weight: 54 g (1.9 oz)

  • Size: Small (5 - 9 in)

  • Color Primary: White, Brown

  • Underparts: White with dark brown breast patch.

  • Upperparts: Gray-brown

  • Back Pattern: Solid

  • Belly Pattern: Solid

  • Breast Pattern: No Data

Sex Differences

Female slightly drabber


Similar to nonbreeding adult, but with less distinct breast band and scaly pale edging on back feathers.


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

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Ocean beaches, lagoons, and salt flats.


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


Crustaceans, especially fiddler crabs, worms, insects.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Charadriidae
    Subfamily: Charadriinae
Genus: Charadrius
Species: Charadrius wilsonia
    Subspecies: Charadrius wilsonia beldingi
  Charadrius wilsonia wilsonia

Similar Species

  • Killdeer is larger and has two distinct chest bands.

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

  • Snowy Plover is smaller, has a pale back, and a short, thin bill.

  • Piping Plover is smaller, has a pale back, a short, sometimes orange-based bill, and a more rounded, "cuter" profile.

Bird Sound

A sharp whistled "weep!"

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution