During the peak of their migration in the fall (August and September), Semipalmated Plover sightings occur inland but are especially concentrated along the East coast. Sightings are decreasing now as we approach the tail end of their flight from their Arctic and sub-Arctic breeding grounds to their wintering grounds which range from the southern U.S. through southern South America.
In general, plovers (Charadriidae) are small to medium-size, plump shorebirds with long wings and short necks and rounded heads. The Semipalmated Plover, during the breeding season, has a black crown, eye patch and single breast band. These areas are brown in nonbreeding adults (pictured).
Fortunately, there is no evidence that the estimated breeding population of 200,000 birds is diminishing. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “The Semipalmated Plover is among the few plovers whose numbers are apparently increasing, perhaps owing to its versatility in food and habitat choice, its wide-spread coastal winter distribution, or its habitat expansion in the sub-Arctic as a result of disturbance by both humans and arctic geese.”
For those curious about this shorebird’s name, “semipalmated” in a wading bird’s name indicates that its toes are webbed for part of their length (barely detectable in photo, but if you look hard you’ll see partial webbing in the left foot).
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