Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Bruce A. Sorrie
Photo Copyright Bruce A. Sorrie

The American golden-plover (also referred to as the lesser golden-plover), Pluvialis dominica, is an uncommon spring and fall migrant through Utah that prefers lake shore and marsh habitats. The species breeds on the arctic tundra of northern North America, and winters in southern South America. At one time, great flocks of thousands of American golden-plovers migrated across the United States, but hunting during migration, as well as on wintering grounds, has greatly reduced American golden-plover numbers.

American golden-plovers are shorebirds that sprint across the ground, stop suddenly to probe the surface for food, then suddenly race off again. Their diet consists of a variety of invertebrates, such as insects, worms, spiders, crustaceans, and mollusks. Breeding begins in late May to mid-June, depending on the location. The male digs a small depression in the tundra and then lines it with dry leaves and grasses. Typically, four eggs are incubated, and the male and female share nest-tending duties (males take days, females take nights) for the 26 incubation day period. The young are able to run and find their own food when newly hatched; both parents share the care-taking responsibilities until the young are independent.


  • Biological and Conservation Database. 2000. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, The Nature Conservancy, and the Association for Biodiversity Information.

  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Peterson, R. T. 1966. A field guide to western birds, second edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.