Snowy Plover in breeding plumage
Photo © Bob Gress
6 - 6 3/4 inches
16 1/2 - 18 1/2 inches
This is a sparrow-sized, light brown to tan and white plover. During the breeding
season, look for a single, partial dark neck band, black forehead, dark legs and dark
colored bill. Often a black smudge is seen behind and below the eye. In nonbreeding
plumages, the markings are not as dark .
- Similar Species:
Dark legs and bill separate Snowy from both Semipalmated
and Piping plovers.
- Comments: Different
subspecies and discrete populations of Snowy Plovers are found worldwide. Genetic studies
have been used to distinguish subspecies. Characteristics such as behavior and geographic
separation are used to distinguish distinct populations. Currently, the Pacific Coast
population, considered distinct from the Great Plains population, is federally listed as
threatened. Inland populations of the Great Plains subspecies are state listed as birds of
concern throughout most of their range. Within the Great Plains, Snowy Plovers breed on
alkali and dry mudflats and sandy areas along river channels. They spend the nonbreeding
season on sandy beaches along the Pacific and Gulf coasts.
Other Great Plains
Text: Suzanne Fellows and Bob Gress
Web Design: Jim Mason