Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Snowy Plover Breeding
Snowy Plover non breeding
Snowy Plover non-breeding

Snowy Plovers are small waders known for their run and pause motion on sandy beaches. They blend well into the landscape because of the sandy tones on their upperparts.

Breeding adults have dark patches on the front of their crowns, at the back of their eyes, and on the side of their upper breasts, like a partial collar. Their bills are short and black and their legs and feet are dark gray. 

Juveniles are a paler version of adults and have no dark face patches. Their upper parts are still a lighter sandy brown their neck stripe is also light. 

  • Charadrius nivosus
  • Length: 6 – 7 in (15 – 18 cm)
  • Weight: 1.4 oz (40 g)
  • Wingspan: 13 – 14 in (33 – 36 cm)


Snowy Plovers breed in the Basin Steppe and the southern Great Plains. They migrate to the Gulf Coast and Central American coast. They remain all year on the West Coast and western and northern South America.

Habitat and Diet

You can find Snowy Plovers on sandy coastal beaches and dry salt flats. They are also seen on shallow lakes. They prefer salt water over freshwater though. Their breeding grounds require sparse vegetation as a protective cover for the eggs.

They employ a run-and-pause motion when catching prey.

Snowy Plovers are active foragers on dry sand and sometimes in wetter areas as the tide rolls out. They are expert catchers of insects and crustaceans like worms, mole crabs, fly larvae, beetles, flies, snails, and clams.

Snowy Plover Calls:


Nests of Snowy Plovers are simple scrapes on the ground, usually beside a special feature like a plant or a shell. The female lays two to six eggs and she lines the nest with pebbles, shell pieces, and fish bones. It takes around a month to incubate the eggs and both parents share in this responsibility. 

Fun Fact:

Snowy Plovers have been listed as a threatened species since 1993 because the open nature of their nests makes it difficult to breed. Their nests on the beaches are prone to disturbance from humans or animals.