Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by John George
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The snowy plover, Charadrius alexandrinus, is a shorebird that occurs in much of the world, including the United States, Central America, South America, Eurasia, and Africa. They are common in Utah, with the largest known concentration in interior North America being found on the Great Salt Lake. Inland populations are migratory; Utah populations migrate to the California coast and Mexico for winter. Beaches, ponds, and shore-lines are the preferred habitats of this species.

Nests are built on the ground, usually in open or sparsely vegetated areas near water. Females lay an average of three eggs in late spring or early summer; both parents incubate the eggs for 24 to 27 days. The female may leave the nest and lay a second brood with a different mate after her first clutch hatches, leaving the male to tend the young alone. The young can fly at about one month of age. The snowy plover eats insects and other small invertebrates (such as brine shrimp in the Great Salt Lake) that are captured in sand, mud, or shallow water.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 pp.