Above: American Golden-Plover juvenile (photo by Christian Artuso)
How do I recognize it?
In breeding plumage this species is unlikely to be mistaken for any other species, except for European and Pacific Golden-Plovers, which have not been know to occur in Manitoba. The mottled black-and-gold upperparts are separated from the black underparts by a broad white border. It is about the size of a Killdeer. In non-breeding plumage it has warmer brownish colours that the greyer and slightly larger Black-bellied Plover.
Does it migrate?
Both in spring and in fall, American Golden-Plovers migrate through the south of Manitoba, at times in large numbers. It winters in primarily in South America.
Where does it live?
The breeding range of this species stretches across the Arctic tundra regions of North America, as far south as the Churchill area.
Where can I see it?
American Golden-Plovers use a variety of habitats during migration: sod fields, burned or harvested agricultural fields, lakeshores, and the like. Besides seeing it on the breeding grounds, they can often be found on sod and stubble-fields at the north end of Oak Hammock Marsh, along the southern shores of Lake Manitoba, at Whitewater Lake and similar locations.
Depending on the authority consulted, this species is listed as Least Concern, Sensitive and Priority Species. There is no doubt that there has been a steep decrease in numbers overall. It is thought that habitat loss and disturbance on the wintering grounds in South America are the main causes.
Above: American Golden-Plover (Photo by Christian Artuso)
Did you know?
Once this plover broods a full clutch of four eggs, the usual number for most shorebirds, it is remarkably tame and will allow close approach, as shown in one of the accompanying photos.
Written by Rudolf Koes