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Pacific Golden Plover

Pacific Golden Plover, Vancouver Island, BC
Pacific Golden Plover, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo Copyright By Pauline Greenhalgh

Pacific Golden Plover is among the prettiest waders that can be seen on the beaches of the Pacific Northwest.

Pacific Golden Plover eats mainly bivalves and other mollusks on their wintering grounds as well as worms, crustaceans, spiders. During breeding season in the Arctic, seeds, leaves, and berries are also an important food source. Pacific Golden Plovers find their food mainly by sight. They forage in a peck and run method, running quickly in an upright position, pausing to peck, then running again. Their preferred foraging ground is on the intertidal mudflats.

Pacific Golden Plover migrates, feeds, and roost in large flocks, usually up to 50, but can be in much larger flocks when food is plentiful. Pacific golden plovers breed in Alaska in June and July. Males usually return to the same nest site, even to the same spot. They form monogamous pairs. Their excellent camouflage allows them to simply nest on the ground.

Breeding plumage consists of bright gold-flecked upperparts that become mottled with black and gold, the face and rest of the underparts are black with a light band from the forehead along with the head and down the sides of the breast to the flanks. The non-breeding plumage is grey-brown with gold speckles and a belly white.

They prefer well-vegetated and well-drained tundra, often on hillsides or ridges. The nest is just a shallow scrape lined with lichens. 4 eggs are laid, incubated by both parents for 26 days. Soon after hatching, the chicks and parents move off to moist shrubby, or grassy tundra. When threatened, the parent distracts the predator from the nest or chicks by pretending to have a broken wing. Both parents raise the young unless the brood is late, then only the male will raise them.

Golden plovers are long-distance fliers, after breeding in the Arctic, these plovers migrate to spend winter almost halfway around the world to winter in Hawaii, Fiji, the South Pacific, all the way to New Zealand.

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