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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Shorebirds

Black-bellied Plovers, Pluvialis squatarola

Plovers wading in shallow water.

Black-bellied Plovers are shorebirds that breed in tundra regions of the Arctic, including northern Alaska, Canada, and parts of Siberia, from June to August.

Black-bellied Plovers are commonly found in open, dry tundra with scattered vegetation, where insects, spiders, and small invertebrates are abundant during the breeding season.

They forage in coastal mudflats, sandflats, and tundra edges for beetles, flies, spiders, and small crustaceans. They may also feed on marine worms and small mollusks.

Black-bellied Plovers have relatively short, thick bills adapted for probing and picking prey from the surface. Their keen eyesight and rapid, darting movements make them effective hunters in open habitats.

Courtship involves males performing aerial displays, flying in circles and diving with a series of loud whistles to attract females. Ground displays include puffing out the chest, raising wings, and calling.

Nests are built by females in shallow depressions on the ground, lined with lichens, moss, and leaves. Nests are typically located in dry, elevated areas with sparse vegetation.

Egg laying occurs from June to July, with females laying 3-4 eggs. Incubation lasts about 26-27 days and is shared by both parents. Upon hatching, chicks are precocial and leave the nest shortly after to follow the parents. Initial diets include small insects and other invertebrates provided by both parents.

Chicks learn to forage under the supervision of both parents, initially relying on them to find food. As they grow, they begin to forage independently but remain vulnerable to predation and harsh weather conditions.

Fledging occurs at about 35-45 days, with continued guidance from both parents. Juvenile diets gradually expand to include a wider range of invertebrates as they develop foraging skills.

Migration begins in late summer to early autumn, with birds traveling along both coastal and inland flyways to wintering regions in South America, Central America, and coastal areas of the southern United States.

Wintering habitats include coastal mudflats, estuaries, sandy beaches, and inland wetlands. Foraging continues in these habitats, with diets consisting mainly of marine worms, crustaceans, insects, and small mollusks.

Black-bellied Plovers leave their wintering grounds in late March to early April, returning north to breeding territories.