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Introduction to Plovers

Plovers, also known as shorebirds, are a group of birds that are mainly found in coastal environments. Plovers are generally small to medium-sized wading birds, with short wings, short legs, and short, stocky bodies. There are many different species of plovers around the world, from North and South America, Europe, and Africa, to New Zealand and Australasia, and beyond.

Plovers move in a distinctive, hopping pattern. They can often be seen scurrying along the beach, or hopping around in the shallow water close to shore. Among the most iconic of plovers are the Black-Bellied Plover, the American Golden Plover, and the Black-Capped Plover.

The Habits of Plovers

Plovers are most commonly found near bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, and oceans. Many prefer mudflats and beaches, while others like to remain further inland in fields and meadows. Plovers usually stick to their breeding grounds during the summer; however, they can often be seen migrating in groups, heading towards their winter destinations.

Plovers mainly feed on small invertebrates, such as insects and larvae, which they dig up from the sand and mud. They use their long bills to search the sand for food and also to probe for worms and other buried prey. Plovers often forage in small flocks and will follow larger birds, such as terns, to exploit a variety of foraging habitats.

The Breeding Habits of Plovers

Most Plovers breed in spring or summer and lay their eggs on sandy or muddy beaches. The female will construct a shallow cup-shaped nest in the sand and line it with dried grass and feathers.

Plovers form monogamous pairs that breed together each season, or even over several consecutive seasons. After the eggs have hatched, the breeding pair will remain with the chicks to protect them from predators. Each species of Plover has its own strategy for this, but generally the male will stay in the centre of the brood while the female perches around them.

The eggs usually hatch after 21-32 days, with the chicks staying with their parents for several weeks or months before they are able to fly.

Plover two

Threats to Plovers

Unfortunately, Plovers are facing many threats from human activities. Foremost among these is habitat destruction, due to coastal development, land conversion for agriculture, and coastal pollution. This has left many Plover populations in decline, with some species being particularly vulnerable to human disturbance.

Invasive species are another major threat to Plovers. Animals like feral cats and red foxes can prey on Plovers, and other invasive plants can out-compete native species for food and nesting sites.

The rise of recreational activities such as beach lounging, walking, and driving on coastal land has also impacted many breeding Plover populations. To protect Plovers, it is important to restrict activities on the beach during the breeding season.


Plovers are an important part of coastal ecosystems around the world, playing an essential role in maintaining healthy beaches and mudflats. Unfortunately, many Plover populations are in decline, however, with effective management, local authorities, and awareness campaigns, this can be reversed. By understanding more about the habits and threats that threaten Plovers, we can work together to ensure a brighter future for these amazing birds.

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