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Species Description

Wilson's Plover

Charadrius wilsonia


Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Charadriidae


Black bill; grayish pink legs. Males: Brown above; black chest band; black lores (area between the bill and the eyes); black head stripe. Females: Brown above; brown chest band, crown, lores, and face patch. 20 cm (7.75 in) in length.

Life Cycle

The breeding season begins in early April and extends into August. Nesting occurs on sandy beaches near the coast. The Wilson's Plover is a colonial nester, nesting in loose groups, sometimes with oystercatchers and terns. The male creates a nest scrape where the female lays the eggs. The scrape is commonly concealed by surrounding stones, driftwood, and other debris. The female lays 2-4 (usually 3) eggs that both adults incubate for 23-24 days. The female usually incubates during the day, while the male takes most of the night shift. The young are precocial and leave the nest within hours of hatching. They are cared for by both adults for approximately 21 days.

Natural History

The non-breeding habitat of the Wilson's Plover includes a variety of coastal areas such as sandy beaches, tidal flats, and small water sources. The diet consists mostly of crustaceans and insects. Wilson's Plover feed both at night and during the day by moving on the ground in search of food at the water's edge. This species is migratory.


Wilson's Plover Region Map During the breeding season, the Wilson's Plover occurs in eastern and southern coastal areas of the United States. It winters from southern coastal Florida south to northern South America, usually along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In Georgia it occurs along the coast during the breeding season.

Conservation Status

This species is not listed as Threatened or Endangered in any part of its southeastern range.

Similar Species

The most similar species include the Semi-palmated Plover, Piping Plover and Snowy Plover. All three species have much smaller and thinner bills, and have a smaller body size than the Wilson's Plover. The orange legs of the Semi-palmated Plover and the Piping Plover differentiate them from the Wilson's Plover. The black legs of the Snowy Plover also identifies it from the pink-legged Wilson's Plover.