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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

Lesser Golden-Plover -- Pluvialis dominica
(formerly American Golden Plover)

RANGE: Breeds from northern Alaska and northern Yukon to Banks, Devon, and northern Baffin Islands south to central Alaska, northwestern British Columbia, southern Keewatin, northern Ontario and Southampton, and southern Baffin Islands. Winters in southern South America.

STATUS: Common, once abundant; population decline due to hunting at the end of the 19th century but is recovering.

HABITAT: Breeds on arctic and subarctic tundra beyond treelimit, usually where the ground cover is lichens and mosses. In migration, occupies short-grass pastures, plowed fields, and burned-over meadows, or beaches and mudflats in coastal areas.


NEST: Nests in a depression on dry ground, preferably on higher sites such as banks of gullies or streams but not necessarily near water. Eggs are difficult to see against tundra. Young birds quickly move to wetter areas such as sphagnum swamps.

FOOD: Feeds in rolling pasturelands with short, scanty grass, on prairies, plains, plowed land, open sand, or mud flats. Mostly eats insects, especially grasshoppers and crickets. Also eats grubs, cutworms, caterpillars, beetles, spiders, mollusks, small crustaceans, small fishes, crowberries, and blueberries.

REFERENCES: Bent 1929, Cramp and Simmons 1983, Palmer 1967, Terres 1980.

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