Piping Plover

Charadrius melodus




Lapwings and Plovers (Charadriidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Pale buff marked with black and brown

Number of Eggs:

3 - 4

Incubation Days:

26 - 28

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On open sand.

Nest Material:

Bits of pebbles and shells.





Piping Plover: Small, pale sand-colored plover with showy black bands on head and neck. Uppertail is white with white-edged black tip. Short bill has bright orange base and black tip. Legs are bright orange. Female is slightly duller, often has incomplete breast band. Winter adult has gray breast band and lacks head band; bill is all black. Juvenile resembles winter adult but has paler breast band.

Range and Habitat

Piping Plover: This species is nearly always found in open sandy areas near water, including ocean and lakeside beaches or river sandbars. In winter, it is found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts from Virginia south to the Yucatan Peninsula; it moves north to breed and south for winter. This bird breeds in the upper Midwest, central Canada, and along the Atlantic coast north of Virginia.

Breeding and Nesting

Piping Plover: Lays three to four pale buff eggs marked with brown and black in simple scrape of sand on an open beach, often near a clump of grass. Both parents incubate for 26 to 28 days. Chicks leave nest within hours of hatching and can feed themselves. Female often departs soon after, leaving male to guard young as they grow.

Foraging and Feeding

Piping Plover: Finds food by sight. Runs a few steps, pauses briefly, then runs a few more steps or chases prey. Hunts on dry sand, wet sand, and mud at water's edge. Eats a wide variety of small insects and invertebrates.


Piping Plover: Clear descending "peep-u."

Similar Species

Piping Plover: Snowy Plover has thin dark bill, dark legs, and a dark line behind eye.

The upper front part of a bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X