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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Mountain Plover -- Charadrius montanus

RANGE: Breeds from extreme southern Alberta and northern Montana south to central and southeastern New Mexico, western Texas, western Oklahoma, and western Missouri. Winters from central California, southern Arizona, and central and coastal Texas south to Mexico.

STATUS: Common but declining.

HABITAT: A species of the high plains and arid regions of western valleys and hills, usually found far from water. Generally avoids mountainous areas and prefers areas dominated by blue grama grass and buffalo grass. In winter, congregates in flocks of 15 to several hundred on alkali flats, plowed ground, grazed pastures, or other open arid habitats.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Shortgrass prairie and arid plains.

NEST: Nests in scrapes on flat ground, preferably in areas of blue grama-buffalo grass with scattered clumps of cacti and western wheat grass. Avoids tall vegetation.

FOOD: Consumes mostly, if not entirely, insects caught on the dry plains and prairies, primarily grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and flies.

REFERENCES: Bent 1929, Garrett in Farrand 1983a, Graul 1975, Palmer 1967, Terres 1980.

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