Grey Plover  |  

Pluvialis squatarola

The Grey Plover is a medium-sized (length: 27–31 cm; weight: 250 g) plover with long legs and a short, stout bill. Sexes sometimes differ when in breeding plumage, but are inseparable when in non-breeding plumage; juveniles are separable from adults. In breeding plumage, the male has a pale whitish crown and nape with fine black streaks or mottling; the hindneck is mostly white; and the rest of the upperparts are black with silvery-white blotches except for the rump, which is white, and the uppertail, which is white with black or dark-brown barring. The face is black except for a white forehead and supercilium which curves behind the ear coverts and down the sides of the neck. The underparts are black except for the vent and undertail coverts, which are white. In flight the upperwing is black with whitish mottling except for the flight feathers and primary coverts, which are black with a white wing-bar; the underwing is mostly whitish with black feathering in the ‘arm pit’. The bill is black, the eyes are dark brown, and the legs and feet are dark grey or blackish. The female in breeding plumage appears similar to the male, but the areas which are black on the male may appear brown, and the underparts may have a little white flecking (Marchant & Higgins 1993; Stewart et al. 2007). In non-breeding plumage, both sexes have a brown crown and nape with fine white streaking. The rest of the upperparts are pale brownish-grey with white fringes to the feathers, giving a slightly mottled appearance, except for the rump and uppertail coverts, which are white. The forehead and lores are whitish, and there is an off-white supercilium with brown streaking above a brown eye-stripe. The rest of the face is whitish with fine grey-brown streaks. The chin and throat are white; the neck, breast and flanks are white with pale mottling and streaking, and the rest of the underparts are white. When in non-breeding plumage they retain the white wing-bar and black ‘arm pit’ (Marchant & Higgins 1993; Stewart et al. 2007). Juveniles are similar to non-breeding adults, but have distinct dusky-brown streaking on the face, throat and breast, and pale areas have a distinct pale-gold or yellow-buff tinge, including the spangling on the upperwings (Marchant & Higgins 1993; Stewart et al. 2007). Grey Plovers are usually solitary or occur in small flocks. They do form large flocks at communal roosts, often with other waders such as Pacific Golden Plovers (Pluvialis fulva), Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus), knots and godwits (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • IUCN Red List Assessment, Pluvialis squatarola

    Warmer temperatures brought about by climate change are thought to affect this species (Maclean et al. 2008).

    Systems Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine Threats (see Appendix for additional information) The following information refers to the species’s European range only Populations fluctuate from year to year with poor weather and predator pressure in years of low lemming numbers (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).