Animals -> Birds -> Shorebirds -> Plovers


Plovers were hunted by cultures including Coast Salish, those of the North, Red Earth Cree, Iroquois and Micmac (Mi'kmaq) [1-5]. The Black-bellied Plover and the American Golden-Plover are reported to have been eaten occasionally by Wainwright Inupiat [6]. During their migrations, plovers predictably passed Coast Salish communities. Men waited with nets suspended from tall poles to trap the passing flocks. Plover meat was a welcome treat to the usual diet of fish [5]. The Mackenzie River was a well-known site for plover nesting, including American Golde-Plovers and Semipalmated Plovers. Yukon women and children gathered plover eggs; hunting adult birds was left to men and older boys, who used arrows [7]. The eggs of American Golden-Plover and Black-bellied Plover were highly regarded, but reportedly disappeared from the Canadian Arctic in the 1980s [8]. The Iroquois also sought plover eggs [1], likely to have included those of Semipalmated Plovers.

The Coast Salish used plover feathers to sew blankets and to decorate clothing [5]. In the Arctic, the dried skin of gray plover was a good talisman for deer-hunting [8].


1.         Waugh FW. In: Iroquois Foods and Food Preparation. edn. Ottawa: Department of Mines. Government Printing Bureau; 1973.

2.         Stoddard NB: Micmac Foods, vol. re-printed from the Journal of Education February 1966. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Halifax Natural Science Museum; 1970.

3.         Meyer D: Appendix I: Plants, Animals and Climate; Appendix IV: Subsistence-Settlement Patterns. In: The Red Earth Crees, 1860-1960. Volume 1st edition, edn.: National Musem of Man Mercury Series; 1985: 175-185-200-223.

4.         Jenness.S.E: Arctic Odyssey: The Diary of Diamond Jenness, Ethnologist with the Canadian Arctic Expedition In Northern Alaska and Canada, 1913-1916. Hull, Quebec: Canadian Musem of Civilization; 1991.

5.         Ashwell R: Food, Fishing & Hunting; Cooking Methods. In: Coast Salish: Their Art, Culture and Legends. Volume 1st edition, edn. British Columbia: Hancock House Publishers Inc.; 1978: 28-55.

6.         Nelson RK: Hunters of The Northern Ice. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press; 1969.

7.         Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada: The Canadian Indian: Yukon and Northwest Territories. Ottawa: Information Canada; 1973.

8.         Vaughan R: Birds and Arctic peoples. In: In Search of Arctic Birds. edn. London: T & A D Poyser; 1992: 20-48.

Plovers are small wading and probing shorebirds that differ from other shorebirds in having moderately long legs and a bill that is generally not longer than the length of their head. All plovers typically forage along the water by running in rapid, short bursts and stopping to dart at invertebrate prey. Plovers form monogamous pairs and nest in the open on shorelines, grasslands, tundra, and even stony deserts. They all migrate to spend the winter south of their breeding range [1]. In North America, plovers include the Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola), breeding in the High Arctic along the Arctic Ocean [2], the American Golden-plover (Pluvialis dominica), breeding in northern parts of Alaska and of Canadian Territories [3], and the Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus), breeding throughout Alaska and most of northern Canada [4].

The Black-bellied Plover and the American Golden-plover look alike in their breeding plumage, with a black face, fore-neck, breast, and belly. However, the Black-bellied Plover is larger, weighing between 190 and 240 g, with a whitish hood and white upperparts mottled with black, while the American Golden-plover is smaller, weighing between 145 and 185 g, with a broad white band running from the forehead to the neck sides and dark brown upperparts mottled with bright yellow [2, 3]. The Semipalmated Plover is the smallest, weighing around 50 g, with brown upperparts, white underparts, and a white collar [4].


1.         Morrisson RIG: Shorebirds. In.: Minister of the Environment, Canadian Wildlife Service; 2001.

2.         Paulson DR: Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola). In: The Birds of North America Online. Edited by Poole A. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; 1995.

3.         Johnson OW, Connors PG: American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis domonica). In: The Birds of North America Online. Edited by Poole A. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; 2010.

4.         Nol E, Blanken MS: Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus). In: The Birds of North America Online. Edited by Poole A. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; 2014.


Distribution maps provided below, unless otherwise stated, were obtained from Birds of North America Online, maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and all pictures provided below were obtained from Encyclopedia of Life
Black-bellied Plover
Supplier: Wikimedia Commons
Photographer: Hans Hillewaert
American Golden-Plover
Supplier: Wikimedia Commons
Photographer: Dominic Sherony
Semipalmated Plover
Photographer: Dewhurst, Donna