SPECIES

Pacific Golden-Plover Pluvialis fulva Scientific name definitions

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

Habitat

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Breeds in drier parts of typical tundra , but not on coastline. Winters in coastal areas, in fields with short grass, prairies, ploughed land, saltmarshes, beaches and open sandflats, and mudflats; often on golf courses, playing fields, airfields, etc. Young birds occur more frequently on mud by inland waters and tidal flats. Roosts in same places used for feeding, but also near feeding areas on exposed sandy beaches or rocks; where such roosting sites are lacking, may roost on roofs of buildings. Recorded to 1,500 m in Africa (Ethiopia) (145) and 1,400 m in Asia in winter (146), but much higher on passage and to 2,500 m on Hawaii.

Habitat in Breeding Range

Pacific Golden-Plover nests primarily on arctic and subarctic tundra, sometimes on montane tundra, in shrub tundra, rarely forest tundra, and on stony well-drained uplands, with moss and lichens. Distinct difference in topographic and vegetative requirements found where golden-plover species are sympatric on Seward Peninsula (85): Typically, Pacific Golden-Plover nests in dense vegetation on lower, dry to moist sites with fewer rocks (see Breeding: Nest Site), and American Golden-Plover nests in sparse, low vegetation on higher, well-drained, rocky slopes. Occasional reversal of this pattern has occurred at some sites on Seward Peninsula (147; OWJ, unpublished data).

In Siberia, Pacific Golden-Plovers nest in a wide range of habitats from moist forest–tundra to dry lichen–tundra (22, 148, 149, 150, 151, 141). Nests in montane tundra in Chukotskiy and Koryakskiy highlands. On St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, Pacific Golden-Plover nests were found only on “dry knolls” (63) and “in higher dry areas where gravel and lichens covered the ground” (47). Of 8 Pacific Golden-Plover nests at Port Heiden, Alaska Peninsula, 6 nests were located on dry stony substrate with sparse plant cover, 2 nests were located in low heath–lichen–grass tundra (97).

Habitat in Nonbreeding Range

Habitat use in the overwintering range of Pacific Golden-Plover is extremely varied: cultivated fields (especially rice fields), pastures, coastal salt marshes, mudflats, coralline flats, beaches, mangroves, grassy borders of airport runways and taxiways, cemeteries, athletic fields, parks, residential lawns, golf courses, roadsides, and clearings in heavily wooded areas. In Hawaii, birds use various of the foregoing, also open stands of ironwood (Casuarina equisetifolia) with trees often ≥ 20 m tall (ingress/egress flights essentially vertical), and tiny lawns and gardens in heavily urbanized areas such as downtown Honolulu, Hawaii. On Oahu and other Hawaiian islands, military bases and airports often contain important overwintering grounds supporting many birds. Where suitable habitats (e.g., pastures) occur on mountain slopes in Hawaii, plovers range to at least 2,500 m elevation (152, OWJ). Overwintering Pacific Golden-Plovers are very adaptable to urban environments and coexistence with humans (153, 154, 155, 156, 19, 157, 158, 159, 160), much more so than American Golden-Plovers (see Conservation and Management: Effects of Human Activity).

Extensive land-clearing in Hawaiian Islands (beginning with deforestation by Polynesian colonists around AD 400) and elsewhere across insular Pacific (161, 154, 158) has likely improved overwintering conditions for plovers by creating open environments. Migrant individuals destined for the central Pacific and beyond may “short-stop” in Hawaii owing to a plethora of habitat there (162, 163, 164). Similar deforestation and cultivation beneficial to Pacific Golden-Plover in India (165), though other human impacts may offset gains (166).

En route to breeding grounds, uses a variety of inland and coastal habitats, both natural and human-made, including pastures, rice fields, airports, mudflats, and shorelines. During spring passage through arctic and subarctic regions, tundra ridges and hillsides blown free of snow are likely important for foraging and resting.

Pacific Golden-Plover
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Figure 2. Annual cycle of Pacific Golden-Plover.

Figure is based on the annual cycle of birds overwintering in Hawaii and breeding in Alaska (Seward Peninsula). Most of the Seward Peninsula birds overwinter far south of Hawaii and depart on spring migration earlier than depicted here. See Migration for details.

Pacific Golden-Plover
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Example of Pacific Golden-Plover breeding habitat.

Nests primarily on arctic and subarctic tundra, sometimes on montane tundra.

© Ron Furnish, Alaska, United States, 28 May 2013
Pacific Golden-Plover
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Example of Pacific Golden-Plover habitat in migration.

Uses a variety of inland and coastal habitats, both natural and human-made including pastures, rice fields, airports, mudflats, and shorelines.

© Richard MacIntosh, Alaska, United States, 05 Oct 2017
Pacific Golden-Plover
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Example of Pacific Golden-Plover overwintering habitat.

Overwintering range of Pacific Golden-Plover is extremely varied: cultivated fields (especially rice fields), pastures, coastal salt marshes, mudflats, coralline flats, beaches, mangroves, grassy borders of airport runways and taxiways, cemeteries, athletic fields, parks, residential lawns, golf courses, roadsides, clearings in heavily wooded areas.

© Eric Hamren, Hawaii, United States, 08 Sep 2016

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