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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Kari Pihlaviita, M. & W. von Wright (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Golden Plover

Pluvialis apricaria

  • Name also: European Golden Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Golden-plover
  • Family: Plovers – Charadriidae
  • Appearance: A medium-sized wader with a shortish bill, slightly darker than similar Grey Plover. Feathers on upper parts have brownish yellow edges. Axillaries white. Black and white colouring prominent on underparts in summer plumage.
  • Size: Length 25–28 cm, wingspan 53–59 cm, weight 160–220 g.
  • Nest: In a shallow depression on moorland or a hummock in marshland. Little material used, mainly lichen, twigs and pieces of grass.
  • Breeding: 4 eggs laid in May, incubated for 27–29 days by both parents. Fledglings leave the nest after hatching and soon learn to find food for themselves. They then learn to fly within about 28 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in moorland on arctic fells, in mountain birch stands and further south in marshland. More common in Northern Finland, scarce in the south. Finnish population estimated at 40,000–80,000 pairs. During migration may be seen in farmland and on shores.
  • Migration: Winters around the Mediterranean and in Western Europe. Leaves Finland July–October, returning April–May.
  • Diet: Invertebrates.
  • Calls: A plaintive whistle “poo-eeh”.

Golden Plovers are stocky, thrush-sized, short-billed waders, with black underparts and mottled black and yellowish backs and wings. A band of white colouring runs between the black and yellowish brown parts of their plumage all the way from head to tail. Juveniles’ plumage is mottled yellowish and black all over. In flight Golden Plovers can be distinguished by their quite uniformly coloured wings and tail and their white axillaries. Their legs are dark grey, their bills are black, and their irises are brown.

Birds of two different Golden Plover races can be seen in Finland. Most of the birds breeding here are of the northern race (P. a. altifrons) though birds breeding in the south may exhibit characteristics of the nominal race (P. a. apricaria).

Birds of a very similar species, the Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva), are also occasionally seen in Finland. They are slightly smaller and more slender than Golden Plovers, but have proportionally larger heads, longer necks, longer legs and a longer bill of more even width. Their axillaries are brownish grey. Their whistling calls have two syllables, not unlike the call of the Spotted Redshank.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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