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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

Black-bellied Plover -- Pluvialis squatarola

RANGE: Breeds from northern Alaska south to western Alaska, and from northwestern Mackenzie and Banks Island, southern Melville, Devon, and western and southern Baffin Islands south to the Yukon River, north-central Mackenzie, northern Keewatin, and Southampton and Coats Islands. Winters primarily in coastal areas from southern British Columbia and New Jersey south along both coasts of the United States to South America.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Breeds on moist to dry upland rolling tundra. In other seasons frequents mudflats, beaches, shores of ponds and lakes, flooded fields, and salt marshes. Commonly associates with other shorebirds, especially willets, golden plovers, knots, and curlews.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Tundra during breeding season.

NEST: Nests in a depression on the ground in relatively dry sites on or near a ridge, often in a prominent area affording a wide view. Usually locates nest on gravelly ground, sometimes with large boulders or with sparse vegetation of lichens, dryad, saxifrage, willows, sedges, or grasses.

FOOD: Feeds along seacoasts on broad tidal sand flats and mud flats and in salt marshes, or inland around lakeshores, in meadows and upland pastures, or in plowed fields. Diet includes marine worms, small mollusks, crustaceans, marine insects, grasshoppers, locusts, cutworms, grubs, beetles, earthworms, and some seeds and berries.

REFERENCES: Bent 1929, Hussell and Page 1976, Palmer 1967, Terres 1980.

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