American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica)

The American golden-plover is known as a great flyer. Each year they fly over 30, 000 km from the Canadian Arctic to the north coast of South America. These fast flyers reach speeds of 160 km / hour and can fly up to 4000 km without stopping!

Description

The American golden-plover is a dumpy bird measuring 24-28 cm in length, about the size of a robin. Its breeding plumage is striking: it has all-black underparts, a black bill and legs, mottled golden-brown upper parts, and a white ‘scarf’ running across its forehead and down both sides of its neck. In the winter it is less remarkable, with mottled brown upper parts and white underparts speckled with brown.

Distribution

The American golden-plover occurs from the central Siberian Arctic, west to the coast of Alaska.

Ecology

Golden-plovers tend to nest in drier areas of the Arctic, preferentially on densely vegetated slopes and high uplands. Their nest is similar to that of other plovers, a shallow depression lined with a few leaves, and they usually lay four eggs. Both parents share the incubating, and help in raising the young.

Although, like all plovers, this species is a wading bird, migrating individuals are often seen on farm fields inland, rather than in muddy coastal estuaries. Adults depart in huge flocks from the Canadian Arctic, leaving before the young, for their winter destination in South America- often as far south as Argentina. Because of the great distance it must cover on this migration, the American golden-plover often molts into its winter plumage before reaching its final destination. The American golden-plover used to be known as the lesser golden-plover.