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Golden plover

What am I?

The golden plover is a medium-sized plover with a distinctive gold and black summer plumage. In winter the black is replaced by buff and white.

They typically stand upright and run in short bursts.

Golden plover are wary on the breeding grounds.

In winter they form large flocks which fly in fairly tight formation with rapid, twinkling wingbeats.

How to spot them

In summer, adults have a black throat, chest and belly, surrounded by a band of white and topped with a distinctive, spotted gold-and-black back and cap. In winter, they lose their black and turn more buff in colour, with a pale throat, chest and belly. In mixed flocks, Golden plovers can be distinguished from lapwings by their sharp, pointed wings (lapwings have bluntly rounded wings).

Where to see them

Their habitat is lowland fields. They form large flocks, often in the company of lapwings.

Conservation status

The golden plover is green listed in the UK.

Did you know?

There are two other species of golden plover: the American golden plover (which breeds in Canada and Alaska and winters in South America), and the Pacific golden plover (which breeds northern Asia and winters in south Asia and Australia). Both species are extremely rare visitors to the UK each year.