Snowy (Kentish) Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Range: scattered distribution across the northern hemisphere in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.

An attractive small Charadrius plover with a very broad world distribution. Broken up into a number of poorly differentiated subspecies.

Confusion species. One of the most serious ID contenders is White-fronted Plover. This is a slightly larger and heavier bird, with proportionally shorter (grey rather than blackish) legs. The tail of White-fronted Plover is longer, such that the wing tips do not reach the tail tip and the bill is less pointed. The head markings of White-fronted Plover are somewhat variable, however, as a rule, the dark patch behind the eye is usually level with or very slightly below the eye. In contrast, this darker patch in Snowy Plover is mostly below the eye. Field identification of all except alternate-plumaged males depends on a combination of features and, ideally direct comparison with White-fronted Plover.

In all plumages, Snowy Plovers are readily separated from Ringed and Semipalmated Plovers by lack of an obvious dark breast band. It should be kept in mind however that juvenile Ringed/Semipalmated Plovers as well as some some basic plumaged adults show a broken band, although the remaining parts on the flanks are darker and broader than Snowy Plover. May be confused with basic-plumaged Lesser Sand (Mongolian) Plover, which lacks a well-defined white nuchal collar. Basic-plumaged and juvenile Chestnut-banded Plovers are paler and greyer.

Frequents sandy beaches, coastal dunes, tidal mudflats and salt ponds. Feeds using a run and snatch technique typical of small plovers.  Roosts in monospecific flocks or with other species.

Fig. 1. Probably a female in prebasic molt.

Fig. 2 The darker neck collar is almost absent on this bird. Separation of basic plumaged adults from juveniles can be difficult  unless feather details can be seen well. I think the white rather than buff forehead of this bird argues against a juvenile.

Fig. 3 Two individuals in basic plumage. These were part of a flock of thirty or so roosting in shallow water on a coastal pool in northeastern Greece.

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All text and images copyright of Angus Wilson© 2002