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Order Description


Order Description

The Order Charadriiformes is divided into three suborders and contains at least 17 families and over 300 species. In Georgia, there are six families and 74 species.

Family Alcidae

This family includes the auks and puffins. These aquatic birds have dense plumage with black, gray or brown above and usually white below. They have set-back legs and short wings. Some species have large laterally-compressed bills and/or head plumes.
Species in this family:
    Dovekie (Alle alle)
    Razorbill (Alca torda)

Family Charadriidae

This family includes the killdeer, plovers and lapwings. Small to medium-sized shorebirds with a short bill, compact body and pointed wings. Hind toes usually absent.
Species in this family:
    American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica)
    Black-Bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
    Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
    Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)
    Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)
    Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrius)
    Wilson's Plover (Charadrius wilsonia)

Family Haematopodidae

The oystercatchers are stocky shorebirds with a long, heavy, laterally flattened bill. This bill is used to pry open mollusk shells. They are generally black or black-and-white.
Species in this family:
    American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)

Family Laridae

This family includes the gulls, terns, and skimmers. They have strong, long wings, are rather short-legged, and have webbed feet. The hind toe is small or lacking. These birds are patterned in white, gray, black or brown.
Species in this family:
    Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)
    Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger)
    Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)
    Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
    Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
    Bonaparte's Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia)
    Bridled Tern (Onychoprion anaethetus)
    Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus)
    Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)
    Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
    Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri)
    Franklin's Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan)
    Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus)
    Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
    Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)
    Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
    Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides)
    Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
    Least Tern (Sternula antillarum)
    Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
    Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus)
    Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus)
    Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus)
    Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus)
    Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)
    Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
    Sabine's Gull (Xema sabini)
    Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
    Sooty Tern (Onychoprion fuscatus)
    South Polar Skua (Stercorarius maccormicki)

Family Recurvirostridae

This family is comprised of avocets and stilts. These wading birds have long, spindly legs and long slender bills either straight or curved upward.
Species in this family:
    American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)
    Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)

Family Scolopacidae

The sandpipers, snipe and woodcocks are found in this family. The hind toe is usually present. The bills are slender but may be relatively short to very long. They also vary widely in size and length of neck and legs. However, these birds generally are cryptically colored, many matching the colors of the season.
Species in this family:
    American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)
    Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii)
    Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis)
    Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
    Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
    Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
    Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)
    Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica)
    Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)
    Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
    Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus)
    Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)
    Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)
    Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)
    Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima)
    Red Knot (Calidris canutus)
    Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius)
    Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
    Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
    Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
    Sanderling (Calidris alba)
    Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla)
    Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)
    Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria)
    Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)
    Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus)
    Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda)
    Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)
    Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
    White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)
    Willet (Tringa semipalmata)
    Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)
    Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata)