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The Golden Plover is an aristocrat among birds. Everything about it is distinctive. The jet black breast and belly, the golden yellow back and striking head markings of the breeding plumage would in themselves be enough to set it apart in any assemblage of its relatives. In addition it has rather stately and dignified movements in contrast to the darting hasty nervousness of so many shorebirds whether feeding, migrating or on the breeding grounds. The downy chicks are also among the loveliest of all young birds, their yellow backs being startlingly different from the usual blacks, browns and grays affected by most newly hatched youngsters of the shorebird clan.
Gabrielson and Lincoln (1959), The Birds of Alaska (1)
The Pacific Golden-Plover breeds on tundras from western Alaska to the Yamal Peninsula, Russia. The breeding range converges with that of the very similar American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica) in the Bering Strait region, with the Pacific Golden-Plover being common on both sides of the Bering Strait, and the American Golden-Plover being rare in extreme eastern Siberia. From the breeding grounds, their extensive migrations, often involving nonstop, transoceanic flights, link the Pacific Golden-Plover with a vast area of the world. During the overwintering period, the species occupies an immense range from coastal California and much of the insular Pacific to Australia, southeast Asia, India, and northeast Africa. Overwintering habitats are extremely varied and include urban grasslands, tidal flats, and agricultural fields. Both sexes are site-faithful on the overwintering grounds, and each individual typically reoccupies the territory it held in the previous year.
On the breeding grounds, there is strong male-biased fidelity to specific territories over successive seasons. Territories are large (10–50 ha) and defined by aerial displays and vocalizations by males and defended by both members of the pair (especially the male) against conspecifics, congeners, and other intruders. Nests are shallow scrapes lined with lichens, and clutches typically contain 4 eggs. Both sexes incubate and care for the young.