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Charadriidae - Plovers, Lapwings & Dotterels

Lapwing
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus ©Ashley Beolens Website

The Charadriidae bird family includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings, about 66 species in all.

They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings, but most species of lapwing may have more rounded wings. Their bill are usually straight (except for the Wrybill) and short, their toes are short, their hind toe could be reduced or absent, depending on species. Most Charadriidae also have relatively short tails, the Killdeer is the exception. In most genera, very little sexual dimorphism occurs between sexes. They range in size from the Collared Plover, at 26 grams and 14cm, to the Masked Lapwing, at 368 grams and 35cm. They are distributed through open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions: the inland dotterel, for example, prefers stony ground in the deserts of central and western Australia. They hunt by sight, rather than by feel as longer-billed waders like snipe do. Foods eaten include aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates such as insects, worms, molluscs and crustaceans depending on habitat, and are usually obtained by a run-and-pause technique, rather than the steady probing of some other wader groups. They also feed on plant material.

The vast majority of Charadriidae have a socially monogamous mating system. Some, such as Northern Lapwings, are polygynyous, others, such as Mountain Plovers have a rapid multiple-clutch system that can be accompanied by sequential polyandry. In Eurasian Dotterels, females compete for males and males provide all parental care. While breeding, they defend their territories with highly visible aerial displays.

They lay two to four eggs into the nest, which is usually a shallow scrape in the open ground, and incubate the clutch for 21 to 30 days. In species where both parents incubate the eggs, females and males vary in the way they share their incubation duties, both within and between species. In some pairs, parents exchange on the nest in the morning and in the evening so that their incubation rhythm follows a 24-hour day, in others females and males exchange up to 20 times a day.

They are protective over their eggs and offspring. The parents protect their young by uttering an alarm call, performing distraction display and they may even attack the predator or intruder. The chicks are precocial; their parents do not feed them.

There are according to the IOC, 66 extant dotterels, plovers, lapwings etc. all members of the Charadriidae family; they are:

Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Long-toed Lapwing Vanellus crassirostris
Blacksmith Lapwing Vanellus armatus
Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus
River Lapwing Vanellus duvaucelii
Black-headed Lapwing Vanellus tectus
Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malabaricus
White-crowned Lapwing Vanellus albiceps
Senegal Lapwing Vanellus lugubris
Black-winged Lapwing Vanellus melanopterus
Crowned Lapwing Vanellus coronatus
African Wattled Lapwing Vanellus senegallus
Spot-breasted Lapwing Vanellus melanocephalus
Brown-chested Lapwing Vanellus superciliosus
Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus
Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus
Banded Lapwing Vanellus tricolor
Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles
Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius
White-tailed Lapwing Vanellus leucurus
Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis
Andean Lapwing Vanellus resplendens

Red-kneed Dotterel Erythrogonys cinctus

Inland Dotterel Peltohyas australis

Wrybill Anarhynchus frontalis

European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

New Zealand Plover Charadrius obscurus
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus
Long-billed Plover Charadrius placidus
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Wilson's Plover Charadrius wilsonia
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
Piping Plover Charadrius melodus
Madagascan Plover Charadrius thoracicus
Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius
St. Helena Plover Charadrius sanctaehelenae
Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris
Forbes's Plover Charadrius forbesi
White-fronted Plover Charadrius marginatus
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Snowy Plover Charadrius nivosus
Javan Plover Charadrius javanicus
Red-capped Plover Charadrius ruficapillus
Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii
Chestnut-banded Plover Charadrius pallidus
Collared Plover Charadrius collaris
Puna Plover Charadrius alticola
Two-banded Plover Charadrius falklandicus
Double-banded Plover Charadrius bicinctus
Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus
Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii
Caspian Plover Charadrius asiaticus
Oriental Plover Charadrius veredus
Eurasian Dotterel Charadrius morinellus
Rufous-chested Plover Charadrius modestus
Mountain Plover Charadrius montanus

Hooded Dotterel Thinornis cucullatus
Shore Dotterel Thinornis novaeseelandiae

Black-fronted Dotterel Elseyornis melanops

Tawny-throated Dotterel Oreopholus ruficollis

Diademed Sandpiper-Plover Phegornis mitchellii

Pied Plover Hoploxypterus cayanus

Family Links

Plovers Charadriidae

Family Account

The bird family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings, about 64 to 66 species in all.

Plovers Charadriidae

HBW Family Account

Annotated species list.

Plovers Charadriidae

Family Account

Plovers occur throughout the world. They are readily distinguished from sandpipers and allies, primarily by a standard "plover-like" bill in most species. Normally associated with open wetlands or fields, they occur from the high arctic tundra to tropical sandbars to desert grasslands

Plovers Charadriidae

Family Account

Eurasian species

Plovers Charadriidae

Cornell Species Account

American species

Species Links

American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica

Species Account

Images, description, full species account…

Collared Plover Charadrius collaris

Species Account

The collared plover (Charadrius collaris) is a small shorebird in the plover family, Charadriidae. It lives along coasts and riverbanks of the tropical to temperate Americas, from central Mexico south to Chile and Argentina.

Collared Plover Charadrius collaris

BirdLife Species Account

Collared Plover Charadrius collaris

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Charadrius collaris Vieillot, 1818, Paraguay. Shorter-winged population occurring from Mexico to N Brazil is sometimes separated as a subspecies, gracilis. Monotypic.

European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria

Species Account

The European golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria), also known as the Eurasian golden plover or just the golden plover within Europe, is a largish plover.

Wilson's Plover Charadrius wilsonia

Species Account

The Wilson's plover (Charadrius wilsonia) is a small plover.

Killdeer Charadrius vociferus

Species Account

The killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is a medium-sized plover. The genus name Charadrius is a Late Latin word for a yellowish bird mentioned in the fourth-century Vulgate. It derives from Ancient Greek kharadrios a bird found in ravines and river valleys (kharadra, "ravine").

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

Species Account

The little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius) is a small plover. The genus name Charadrius is a Late Latin word for a yellowish bird mentioned in the fourth-century Vulgate.

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva

Species Account

The Pacific golden plover (Pluvialis fulva) is a medium-sized plover. The genus name is Latin and means relating to rain, from pluvia, "rain". It was believed that golden plovers flocked when rain was imminent. The species name fulva is Latin and refers to a tawny colour

Piping Plover Charadrius melodus

BirdLife Species Account

BirdLife species profile

Piping Plover Charadrius melodus

Species Account

The piping plover (Charadrius melodus) is a small sand-colored, sparrow-sized shorebird that nests and feeds along coastal sand and gravel beaches in North America. The adult has yellow-orange legs, a black band across the forehead from eye to eye, and a black stripe running along the breast line.

Piping Plover Charadrius melodus

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Charadrius melodus Ord, 1824, Great Egg Harbor, New Jersey, USA. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.

American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica

Cornell Species Account

A large shorebird of pastures, open ground, and mudflats, the American Golden-Plover makes one of the longest migratory journeys of any shorebird.

American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica

BirdLife Species Account

American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica

IUCN Species Status

American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica

HBW Species Account

American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Collared Plover Charadrius collaris

Cornell Species Account

Collared Plover is a common tropical and subtropical shorebird distributed broadly from Mexico south into the northern half of South America.

Collared Plover Charadrius collaris

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria

RSPB Species Account

A medium-sized plover with a distinctive gold and black summer plumage. In winter the black in replaced by buff and white.

European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria

IUCN Species Status

European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria

BirdLife Species Account

European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Charadrius apricarius Linnaeus, 1758, Lapland. Two subspecies normally recognized.

European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Killdeer Charadrius vociferus

BirdLife Species Account

Killdeer Charadrius vociferus

HBW Species Account

Killdeer Charadrius vociferus

IUCN Species Status

Killdeer Charadrius vociferus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

IUCN Species Status

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

BirdLife Species Account

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Charadrius dubius Scopoli, 1786, Luzon, Philippines. Three subspecies recognized.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva

BirdLife Species Account

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Charadrius fulvus J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Tahiti. Monotypic.

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva

IUCN Species Status

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva

Cornell Species Account

A beautiful shorebird, the Pacific Golden-Plover breeds in western Alaska and Siberia and winters on islands across the Pacific Ocean, through southeast Asia, to northeastern Africa

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Piping Plover Charadrius melodus

IUCN Species Status

Piping Plover Charadrius melodus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Wilson's Plover Charadrius wilsonia

HBW Species Account

Charadrius wilsonia Ord, 1814, shore of Cape May, New Jersey, USA. Four subspecies recognized.

Wilson's Plover Charadrius wilsonia

IUCN Species Status

Wilson's Plover Charadrius wilsonia

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Wilson's Plover Charadrius wilsonia

BirdLife Species Account

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 66

Useful Reading

Shorebirds

An Identification Guide to the Waders of the World by Pter Hayman, John Marchant and Tony Prater - Helm 1986

ISBN: 0713635096

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Shorebirds

(WorldLife Library) by Des Thimpson, Ingvar Byrkjedal 2001

ISBN: 1841070750

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Shorebirds of North America - The Photographic guide

by Dennis Paulson Christopher Helm 2005. Price ?24.99p

ISBN: 071367377X

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Waders of Europe, Asia & North America

by Stephen Message & Don Taylor published by Christopher Helm 2006 price ?24.99p See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 071365290X

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Geographical Variation in Waders

by Meinte Engelmoer and Cees S Roselaar 331 pages, figs, tabs, maps. Kluwer Academic Publishers

ISBN: 0792350200

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Tundra Plovers

- The Eurasian, Pacific and American Golden Plovers and Grey Plover by Ingvar Byrkjedal and Des Thompson Series: POYSER MONOGRAPHS 422 pages, 40 photos, illus, figs, tabs, maps. T & AD Poyser Ltd (A & C Black) 1998

ISBN: 0856611093

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Australasia Wader Study Group

Website

The Australasian Wader Studies Group was formed in 1981 as a special interest group of Birds Australia. The group is an non-government organisation dedicated to studying waders (otherwise known as shorebirds) throughout the East-Asian Australasian Flyway. There are about 330 members, of which 90 are from Asia…

International Wader Study Group

Website

The International Wader Study Group (IWSG) is an association of amateurs and professionals from all parts of the world interested in Charadrii (waders or shorebirds). Membership of the WSG is currently over 650 worldwide. Members can be found in over 50 countries around the world, including all European countries and the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australasia. The interests of the group have diversified from its original focus from ringing and migration-related studies to embrace all aspects of wader biology.

Snowy Plover Project

Website

The snowy plover is a small awkward-looking shore bird that lives on the leading edge of North America, eating small creatures from the seafoam…

Western Atlantic Shorebird Association

Website

The first research project to be part of WASA is the International Banding Project which is being led by Professor Allan Baker, Canada and Patricia M. González, Argentina. This project is colour-banding Red Knots (Calidris canutus rufa); Sanderlings (Calidris alba) and Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres) along the Atlantic coast of the Americas in an effort to establish their migratory strategies.

Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

Website

WHSRN is a voluntary, non-regulatory coalition of over 200 private and public organizations in seven countries working together to study and conserve shorebirds throughout their habitats. Participation in WHSRN provides the site with international recognition as a major host for shorebirds. OUR MISSION: The conservation, restoration, and management of critical shorebird habitats throughout the Americas…

Forums & Mailing Lists

Waders-L

Mailing List

List contact: rene.navarro@uct.ac.za

FWS-Shorebirds

Mailing List

Blogs

Wader World

Blog

Worldwide Wader Watching…

World Waders News Blog

Blog

A Global Pool For News On Shorebirds/Waders…

Other Links

Wader Quest

Website

It is vital to to take action to prevent the Spoon-billed Sandpiper from becoming extinct. Wader Quest is an attempt to raise money and awareness to the plight of, not just these tiny wanderers but of wader species worldwide…

The New Shorebirds Handbook Project

Blog

This is a blog of The New Shorebirds Handbook Project which aims to bring together the current knowledge on shorebird science, conservation and a little bit more. By following the blog, readers could insight into the progress and important milestones of the project and the recent news on the world of waders and a bit more of us, the authors….