Pacific Golden-Plover Pluvialis fulva Scientific name definitions

Oscar W. Johnson, Peter G. Connors, and Peter Pyle
Version: 1.1 — Published April 15, 2021


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Breeding Range

In North America, nests along the Chukchi and Bering Sea coasts of Alaska from at least Cape Krusenstern (85) south to Cape Peirce and the Ahklun Mountains (94); inland along entire Seward Peninsula, much of Yukon–Kuskokwim region to at least Kisaralik Lake in Kuskokwim Mountains (B. McCaffery, personal communication); also St. Lawrence, Nunivak, Nelson Islands (95), and Hagemeister Island (A. Aderman, personal communication); the upper Nushagak River drainage northwest of Lake Iliamna (96); on the Alaska Peninsula from Naknek and King Salmon southward to Port Heiden at 56.9°N (97) and beyond to at least 56.2°N in the Big Sandy River region (S. Savage, personal communication); and westward from the King Salmon region with reports from Dillingham, Manokotak, and the Nushagak Peninsula (97, 98). Possibly a “rare breeder” on St. Matthew Island, Bering Sea (99). No records of breeding in the Aleutian Islands (100). Based on clutches collected over a century ago, possibly breeding on Stuart Island in Norton Sound, Bering Sea (WFVZ egg collection; 48).

Breeding distribution needs further study and revision. Limits of Pacific Golden-Plover range may extend farther north than Cape Krusenstern (43, 1, 85) and south to tip of Alaska Peninsula, where adult behavior suggesting nearby nest was observed at Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in 1987 (R. Gill, personal communication).

In Russia, Pacific Golden-Plover nests across northern Siberia from Yamal Peninsula (where sympatric with European Golden-Plover) eastward to Chukotka including Dikson Island, Bol'shoy Lyakhovskiy Island, and Wrangel Island, southward through Anadyr region to isthmus of Kamchatka Peninsula, along the west coast of the peninsula between approximately 54° to 58°N and the southeastern coast of Magadan Oblast (101). A tracking study using geolocators suggested that nesting on the Kamchatka Peninsula is more widespread as probable nest sites were beyond the limits indicated (102). Breeding in the Stanovoi Mountains near the Manchurian border (22, 103) was considered invalid (104). As in the Alaska breeding range, boundaries in some regions of Russia are uncertain and require additional field study.

Overwintering Range

The overwintering range of the Pacific Golden-Plover spans about half the earth's circumference. This species occupies upland and coastal habitats from Hawaiian Islands to east-central Japan, Okinawa, Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Australia (especially along coasts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, southeastern South Australia, and Tasmania), south China, Taiwan, southeast Asia (including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines), Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, Bahrain, and northeast Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia) (105, 10, 106, 95, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113).

Golden-Plovers (most likely Pacific Golden-Plover) are rare during winter months along the Pacific Coast of North America from southern British Columbia (Fraser River estuary) through Oregon; numbers increase (definite Pacific Golden-Plovers) in California, especially in southern part of state, including offshore islands (114, 115, 116, 13, 117).

A few sightings in southern Alaska suggest overwintering (118), but most or all may be stragglers. Occasional on the Baja Peninsula (119, 120), Guadalupe Island, Mexico (121, 122), Revillagigedo Island, Mexico (123, 124, 125, 126), and records exist for Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and Chile (127, 95).

Extralimital Records

Pacific Golden-Plovers are casual or accidental in many places (95). Extralimital records might occur when an individual associating with the “wrong flock” migrates to that species’ breeding or nonbreeding grounds; e.g., Pacific Golden-Plovers from the western end of the breeding range may migrate south with European Golden-Plovers to Europe. Another possibility is that hybridization (though apparently rare; see 86) could result in a shift of typical migration direction. Notable extralimital records include: a male in breeding plumage in Yukon Territory (128); a spring migrant (probable female) in Texas (129); a fall migrant in New York (130); and vagrants in the Netherlands and Britain (see 31, 131, and annual reports from the British Birds Rarities Committee). Vagrant to Revillagigedo Island (off Mexico) (132), Costa Rica (133), Bermuda, Bahamas, Barbados (134), western and central Africa (Angola, Ivory Coast, and Senegal) (135, 136, 137), and far inland elsewhere in Africa (e.g., Uganda, Zimbabwe) (138, 139), as well as to most countries in Europe (exceptionally southwest to Canary Islands) (140).

Historical Changes to the Distribution

Some of the following probably reflect more thorough ornithological exploration in recent years rather than actual changes in distribution. Nesting on the northern Taimyr Peninsula, Russia, 76°11' N, at Nizhnyaya Taymyra River (141), previously to 75°N (104). Presence of birds in Yugorskiy Peninsula–Bolshezemelskaya Tundra region of Russia during breeding season (142) suggests possible nesting westward from known range on Yamal Peninsula. A few birds, presumably overwintering, were found at Diego Garcia Island, Indian Ocean, in March 1995 (P. Bruner, personal communication). A population of Pacific Golden-Plovers that previously overwintered in the Netherlands (presumably birds of western Siberian provenance) has possibly disappeared in the past few decades (143, 144).

Distribution of the Pacific Golden-Plover
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Pacific Golden-Plover

Recommended Citation

Johnson, O. W., P. G. Connors, and P. Pyle (2021). Pacific Golden-Plover (Pluvialis fulva), version 1.1. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald, B. K. Keeney, and S. M. Billerman, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.pagplo.01.1