Overview

Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: along Pacific coast north to Washington (most numerous from San Francisco Bay south), south to Oaxaca, and locally (but in larger numbers) inland from Oregon and California (especially the San Joaquin Valley, Mojave Desert, and Salton Sea regions) east to Kansas and Texas and south to southeastern California, southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, and north-central Texas, with the largest concentration around the Great Salt Lake, Utah. NON-BREEDING: islands and on coast from Oregon south to Guatemala; Gulf of Mexico from southern Texas to Mississippi (Page et al. 1995).

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Range

US to Mexico and West Indies; winters to Panama.

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Physical Description

Size

Length: 16 cm

Weight: 41 grams

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Diagnostic Description

Differs from subspecies TENUIROSTRIS in being much darker dorsally (light hair brown to nearly drab vs. pale drab-gray to nearly grayish white in TENUIROSTRIS) (Ridgway 1919).

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Beaches, dry mud or salt flats, sandy shores of rivers, lakes, and ponds.

Nests on the ground on broad open beaches or salt or dry mud flats, where vegetation is sparse or absent (small clumps of vegetation are used for cover by chicks); nests beside or under object or in open (Page et al. 1985). Nests often are subject to flooding. In northern Utah, usually nested in areas devoid of vegetation and selected brine fly exuviae for a nesting substrate when available (Paton and Edwards 1991); nested generally in recently exposed alkaline flats (Paton and Edwards 1992).

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

See record for C. ALEXANDRINUS.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Eats insects, small crustaceans, and other minute invertebrates (Terres 1980). Picks food items from substrate, probes in sand or mud in or near shallow water, sometimes uses foot to stir up prey in shallow water.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Comments: Historic nesting range of listed Pacific coast population included 87 sites (5 in Washington, 29 in Oregon, and 53 in California); currently nests apparently in only 28 sites (2 in Washington, 6 in Oregon, and 20 in California).

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Global Abundance

10,000 - 100,000 individuals

Comments: Total population estimated to be 15,235 (Morrison et al. 2001). Those breeding along the Pacific coast from Washington to Baja California, witnering on the Pacific coast from California to Baja California: 2000. Those breeding at all other interior sites and on the Atlantic coast, wintering in the southern U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean: 13,245 (Morrison et al. 2001). Paton and Edwards (1992) estimated the breeding population at the Great Salt Lake, Utah, at about 10,000 individuals, but this has been revised downwards to 5,000 (G.E. Page, unpublished data, cited in Morrison et al. 2001); this represents the largest known concentration of the species in North America.

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General Ecology

Nonbreeding: usually solitary or in twos, though may form pre-migratory flocks of hundreds in some areas (Paton et al. 1992).

Mean annual survival rate was at least 69% (range 58-88%) for a migratory population at the Great Salt Lake, minimally 75% for a mixed migratory-resident population in coastal California, 66% for a migratory population in North Dakota (see Paton 1994). Predation by gulls, common raven, red fox, skunk, raccoon, and/or coyote may result in a high rate of clutch loss in some areas (Page et al. 1983, 1985; Paton and Edwards 1991, 1992).

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Clutch initiation in northern Utah ranged from mid-April to mid-July (Paton and Edwards 1991, 1992). Clutch size usually is 3. Incubation lasts 24 days, by both sexes. Young are tended by both sexes (or male only), leave nest soon after hatching, fly at 22-31 days. Double brooding commonly occurs in California; female abandons first mate and brood within a few days of hatching and renests with new mate. May nest in loose colony (maximum of 3.3 nests/ha in California). In northern Utah, nest spacing was clumped at certain sites, rather than widely dispersed as has been reported for eastern California (Paton and Edwards 1991).

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N1B - Critically Imperiled

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N3B,N3N : N3B: Vulnerable - Breeding, N3N: Vulnerable - Nonbreeding

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T3 - Vulnerable

Reasons: Large range in the western U.S.and Mexico; populations are scattered and declining in many areas, due to habitat loss/degradation, disturbance of nesting areas, and/or impacts of non-native predators.

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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

Comments: Population declines are apparent in the western U.S. and have been reported in the southern Great Plains region. Reports in the 1980s described declines in breeding pairs at coastal locations in California and Oregon and a decline in the number of birds wintering in California (Paton and Edwards 1990). The estimated population for Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada declined about 20% between the late 1970s and late 1980s; often these declines were associated with changes in habitat availability (Page et al. 1991). The population in the San Joaquin Valley, California, increased between the late 1970s and late 1980s due to increased habitat avialability at newly constructed agricultural waste water ponds (Page et al. 1991).

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Threats

Degree of Threat: B : Moderately threatened throughout its range, communities provide natural resources that when exploited alter the composition and structure of the community over the long-term, but are apparently recoverable

Comments: Poor reproductive success due to human disturbance (including mechanical raking of beaches) is a major problem; much habitat has been lost to development, and spread of introduced beach grass limits the amount of suitable nesting habitat; increasingly vulnerable to native and introduced predators (1992, End. Sp. Tech. Bull. 17(12):18; Page et al. 1995).

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Management

Global Protection: Few to several (1-12) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Formerly treated as conspecific with C. alexandrinus [Kentish Plover] of Eurasia (AOU 1983, 1998), but separated on the basis of differences in male advertisement calls, morphology, and mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, which indicate that the African C. marginatus [Whitefronted Plover] is more closely related to C. alexandrinus or C. nivosus than these two species are to each other (Küpper et al. 2009). Groups: C. nivosus and C. occidentalis [Peruvian Plover]. Some sources consider Charadrius nivosus, C. alexandrinus, C. marginatus, and the Australian C. ruficapillus [Red-capped Plover] to constitute a superspecies (Vaurie 1965, Mayr and Short 1970, Sibley and Monroe 1990), whereas others include C. javanicus [Javan Plover] in this superspecies (Rittinghaus 1961, Wiersma 1996) (AOU 2011 and sources cited therein). Snowy plovers from the continental U.S., formerly C. a. tenuirostris, are now considered C. a. nivosus (Funk et al. 2007).

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