Common name: Mountain plover

Scientific name: Charadrius montanus

Other names: Prairie plover, upland plover

Identification: Mountain plovers are typically 8-9 ½ inches (20-24 cm) tall with a17 ½ -23 inch (44-58 cm) wingspan. Colors are light brown back, sandy-buff breast, white forehead with black above, white eye stripe, white wing stripe, black tail band with white border. Male and females are similar in size and appearance.

Habitat: Arid plains and shortgrass prairies, not mountains. Disturbed areas such as prairie dog colonies or pasture that has been burned or heavily grazed. Nest in areas of low vegetation with almost bare dirt at times, prairie dog colonies are good, flat areas. Disturbed areas, heavily grazed, burned.

Food: Grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, ants, flies, other insects and invertebrates.

Reproduction: One female mates with many males whereas each male mates with only one female. Nest in areas of low vegetation and sometimes bare dirt. The nest itself is a shallow cup in soil and not necessarily lined with any material. Nesting season is March-August. A female may lay two clutches in a season with 1-4 eggs (average 3) per clutch. Incubation by both male and female lasts 28-31 days. Chicks fledge at 33-34 days old.

Behavior: Mountain plovers often will run rather than fly when disturbed. They winter in central and coastal California, Arizona, Texas, northern Mexico.

Conservation status: Declining and now only found in certain areas. Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act in 1999 but was removed from consideration in 2003. In 2010 the US Fish & Wildlife Service revisited the potential listing but ultimately decided not to list again in 2011. Listed as endangered in Canada under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).


Recommended resources:

Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus): A Technical Conservation Assessment by Steve Dinsmore. 2003.