Semipalmated Plover

Charadrius semipalmatus
Range Map

The Semipalmated Plover spends winters along the coastlines of North and South America, from the USA south to northern Chile and Argentina, usually at beaches or mud flats. These birds breed largely in the high Arctic tundra from Alaska and northern Canada through the Hudson Bay region and the coastal zone of northeastern Canada.

The term semipalmated refers to their partially webbed foot, which seems to help them navigate the soft muddy tidal areas where we often find them searching for a meal. The Semipalmated Plover makes its living preying on insects, worms, and small crustaceans.

Plovers are some of my favorite shorebirds. These birds have a similar appearance to their larger cousins, the Killdeer, but only have a single dark breast band. Similar in size to Snowy Plovers, the Semipalmated Plover’s plumage is much bolder. And where the Snowy Plover prefers sandy beaches, the Semipalmated Plover loves mudflats.

Science regards the Semipalmated Plover as monotypic (i.e. no subspecies).

Until my spring 2020 Texas adventure, my only encounters with the Semipalmated Plover were in California. Texas graced me with meetings on South Padre Island. During my 16,000 mile, seven-month expedition of western North America, I met them east of Yellowstone National Park in Cody Wyoming.

28 Photos

Click map markers to reveal further information