WatchList Species Account for American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species

 

American Golden-Plover

Photo: Dale & Marian Zimmerman

The American Golden-Plover breeds in northern and central Alaska eastward across Arctic Canada to Baffin Island and the northwest shore of Hudson Bay, and winters from Central America to southern South America, primarily in the Rio de la Plata grasslands consisting of pampas in east-central Argentina and campos in Uruguay and southern Brazil. It may also breed in eastern Russia.

 

Formerly regarded as conspecific with the very similar Pacific Golden-Plover (see separate account), studies have determined that the two do not hybridize in the limited area in western Alaska where they both occur during breeding. Iin 1993 they were described as separate species.

 

During breeding, this species nests in sparse, low vegetation on higher, well-drained rocky slopes; avian predators such as jaegers and gulls take some eggs and young. During migration it frequents native prairie, pastures, golf courses, airports, turf farms, mudflats, shorelines and beaches before making a nonstop flight of over 3,000 miles over the Atlantic. It feeds on invertebrates and forages selectively for larger prey. It is highly territorial and has a territory size estimated at 62 acres on the North Slope of Alaska. It is also territorial on its grassland and inland wetland wintering areas in Argentina.

 

Once hunted heavily, its population rebounded after most hunting ended in the early 20th century. Hunting still occurs in Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname and Barbados. Habitat loss on the wintering grounds to agricultural fields and grazing means the bird is unlikely to reach the numbers it had before this heavy exploitation, but most of the breeding range of the bird is intact and not much impacted by humans. Though there are no precise population estimates, the American Golden-Plover numbers at least in the tens of thousands.