Birds – True Plovers

The true Plovers form a considerable group of “small or medium sized shore-birds, with rather short, somewhat Pigeon-like bill, large rounded head, short neck, long and pointed wings, and moderately lengthened legs, the hind toe usually absent.” One of the larger and more widely spread genera is AEgialitis, with upward of twenty species. They are small birds, mostly between five and a half and eight inches in length, with a small, rather slender bill, and short tail, the central pair of feathers being brown at the base instead of white, as in the Lapwings, while the plumage of the upper parts is of plain coloration. From the presence of a more or less well defined ring or collar of black, several of the species are’ known as Ring Plovers, among them the European Ring Plover (Ai. hiaticula) of Europe and western Asia, which retires to Africa and India in winter, and also occurring in Arctic America. They are sociable little birds frequenting the seashore and the margins of lakes and rivers in small parties, or in fall uniting into large flocks, and have a melodious, though rather mournful, whistle. Their food consists of insects, worms, and small crustaceans, and the nest is placed in a hollow in the sand above high water. Smaller but otherwise quite similar is the Little Ring Plover (LE. dubia) of the northern portions of the Eastern Hemisphere, and not far removed is the little Piping Plover (AE. meloda) of the shores of eastern North America, and the Snowy Plover (AE. nivosa) of western North America. The Semipalmated Plover (AE. semipalmata), which is sometimes removed to a separate genus (AEgials) on the ground that the outer toe is joined by a web to the middle one, is found throughout North America, nesting in the far north and spending the winter in South America or the West Indies. It is described as a rather silent bird, frequenting, usually in small parties, the salt marshes, sandy beaches, and mud flats, left bare by the receding tide. Another of our species is the Wilson’s Plover (AEgialitis wilsonia) of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is a gentle, quiet bird, frequenting exclusively the maritime beaches, and having, according to Dr. Coues, a half-whistling, half-chirping note.