Charadriidae – Plovers & lapwings

Well known for their rather annoying calls and songs!

This family includes a variety of species, some of which are among the most familiar and widely observed waders across the globe.

Plovers are medium-sized birds, often with striking plumage patterns, including bold markings on the head and throat, which can be particularly pronounced during the breeding season. Some plovers have distinctive features, such as wattles or crests, adding to their variety of appearances. Their necks are typically short, supporting their stout bodies, while their wings are long and pointed, aiding in their migratory flights over long distances.

The legs of plovers can range from short to long, but all are well-adapted for their life spent largely on the ground. A notable feature is the reduction or absence of the hind toe (hallux), which streamlines their shape for walking and running. Plovers are ground-nesters, with many species laying their eggs in simple scrapes on the open ground, where their camouflaged plumage helps to protect them from predators.

Plovers are often found in open, barren landscapes such as seashores, mudflats, freshwater lakes, riverbanks, grasslands, and even the flooded tundra regions of the Arctic. Their diet is varied, including insects, worms, crustaceans, and other small animal prey, which they typically forage for by sight, using a characteristic run-and-pause technique.

Many species within the Charadriidae family are migratory, traveling great distances between their breeding and wintering grounds. This migratory behavior has enabled them to exploit a range of ecological niches across the world.

In addition to natural habitats, plovers have also adapted to modified landscapes and can be found in agricultural areas, sewage ponds, and even urban settings such as airports, golf courses, roadways, and occasionally on flat roofs. Their ability to thrive in a variety of environments has made them a familiar sight to many.