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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

Semipalmated Plover -- Charadrius semipalmatus

RANGE: Breeds from northern Alaska, northern Yukon, Banks, Victoria and central Baffin Islands to the northern Labrador Coast, south to western Alaska, southwestern and central British Columbia, northern Manitoba, central Quebec, and southern Nova Scotia. Nonbreeding birds often summer in the wintering areas south to Panama. Winters primarily in coastal areas from central California, the Gulf Coast, and South Carolina south to South America.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Found during spring and fall migration on beaches, mudflats, lakeshores, riverbanks, freshly plowed fields, shallow marshes, and peat banks. It breeds in dry Arctic tundra, sometimes quite far from water, and prefers lichen-grown gravelly tundra or areas of rubble and patches of stranded debris. Avoids grassy areas.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Level, well-drained gravelly tundra.

NEST: Nests in unsheltered scrapes on level ground in gravelly or sandy soil, or in moss or lichens and above the high-water line in loose colonies.

FOOD: Prefers to feed in shallow streams or mudbars in tundra ponds, but also forages on tidal flats. Diet includes marine worms, mollusks, small crustaceans, larvae of midges and other insects, ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and spiders.

REFERENCES: Cottam and Hanson 1938, Palmer 1967, Sutton and Parmelee 1955, Terres 1980.

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