Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Jim Weis
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola, is a migratory bird that breeds on the arctic tundra of North America and Eurasia. It winters on sandy beaches, in marshes, or in fields at a number of locations throughout the world, including: South America, the east and west coasts of North America, the West Indies, the British Isles, the Mediterranean region, southern China, southern Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The species is an uncommon, but regular, migrant through northern Utah, where it can typically be found near lake shores, during both spring and fall. Unlike the American golden-plover, the black-bellied plover does not migrate in large flocks.

When living near shorelines, the diet of the black-bellied plover consists of marine worms, insects, mollusks, and crustaceans. In fields, individuals eat insects, worms, seeds, and berries. Breeding begins in late May to mid-June, depending on the location. The male digs a small depression in the tundra (often just 300 feet away from the previous year's nest), and the female lines it with lichen or grass. Typically, four eggs are incubated, and the male and female alternate time spent on the nest. The young are able to run and forage for food when newly hatched, and 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.