Plover (Fr. plwuier, rainy), the common name of the charadrinae, a large group of wading birds, very generally distributed over the world; so called because their flocks migrate during the rainy season in autumn. They have a moderately long and slender bill, with cul-men depressed at the base but vaulted at the tip, much as in the pigeons; sides compressed, and in the groove are placed the nostrils; wings long and pointed; tail moderate, broad, and generally even; tarsi usually long and rather slender; the outer and middle toes more or less united at the base, the hind toe wanting or very small; claws compressed and curved; the head is very large, the neck short and thick, and the folded wings reach beyond the tail. The genus vanellus (Linn.) has been described under Lapwing. - In the genus chara-drius (Linn.) the bill is shorter than the head, strong and straight; the first quill the longest; hind toe wanting. The prevailing color is yellowish gray, spotted; the tail transversely banded; no collar on the neck; tarsi and lower thighs uniformly reticulated; legs bluish green.
They are usually seen in small flocks near the sea, in the summer often going inland; the food consists of small insects, mol-lusks, worms, and berries, and is usually sought in the evening or at night; they are strong and rapid fliers, though for short distances, and fast runners; the note is a plaintive whistle easily imitated. The nest is a slight hollow in the sand, lined with dried grass, and the eggs, commonly four, are placed with the small ends together; the young leave the nest as soon as hatched; if disturbed on or near the nest, the parent birds use various devices to lead the intruder from it, pretending lameness or inability to fly. The golden plover (C. Virginicus, Borck.) is about 10 1/2 in. in length and 22 1/2 in alar extent; in the male the. upper parts are brownish black, with numerous spots of golden yellow, on the upper tail coverts generally assuming the form of transverse bands; entire under parts in the breeding season black with a brownish bronzed lustre; bill black. After the autumnal moult the black of the under parts gives place to light grayish with darker spots and streaks. It is found all over North America, and in South America, northern Asia, and Europe; it is called bullhead and field plover; it breeds in the north, going south in winter.
It very much resembles the European golden plover (C. pluvialis, Linn.), except that the axillaries in the latter are white instead of ashy; the eggs are said to be delicious, as also are the young and old birds. The dotterel of Europe (C. morinellus, Linn.), very common, is blackish ash with a white band behind the eyes and another above the breast; breast and flanks reddish brown, and end of tail white. Boie separated from charadrius the genus cegialitis, comprising several smaller species, with lighter and uniform unspotted plumage, with neck and head generally banded with dark, and without continuous black on the abdomen. The five following plovers belong to this genus of Boie. The kil-deer (G. vociferus, Linn.) has been noticed under that title. Wilson's plover (C. Wilsonius, Ord) is about 7 1/2 in. long and 14 1/2 in alar extent; bill 1 in., robust; entire under plumage, forehead, and stripe over eye, white; band of black above the white one on forehead; wide transverse band on breast brownish black; upper parts light ashy brown; a ring of white around the back of neck; bill black and legs yellow. In the female there is not the black on the forehead, and the pectoral band is reddish and ashy brown.
It is found on the Atlantic coast of the middle and southern states and in Brazil; it is a constant resident in the south, and breeds there, sometimes going as far north as Long Island; the breeding season commences about June 1; the eggs are 1 1/4 by 1 in., dull cream-colored, with a few pale purple dots and dark brown spots; it is very plump in autumn, and is excellent for the table; it feeds both by night and day. The ring plover (C. semipalmatus, Bonap.) is a little smaller than the last, light ashy brown above, tinged with olive; under parts, front, throat, and ring around the neck, white; a black band across the breast, extending around the back of the neck below the white ring; bill orange, black-tipped, and legs yellow; female similar, but lighter; young without the black frontal band, and the pectoral band ashy brown. It is found throughout temperate North America, and is common on the Atlantic coast; it breeds in the north, in Labrador about June 1, in rocky mossy districts in the interior; the nest is a cavity in the moss, sheltered from the north winds and exposed to the sun, near the pools formed by the melting snow; it goes south about the middle of August; the flesh of the young bird is juicy and tender; it associates with other birds of similar habits, and is not at all shy.
The piping plover (C. melodies, Ord) is about as large as the last, but of a much lighter brown, almost ashy, the feathers with a whitish edging; there is no black band from the bill through and under the eye; the white collar around neck and the black frontal and pectoral bands less, the latter usually not meeting in front; rump and upper tail coverts almost white; tail white at base, tipped with black. It is found throughout eastern North America, as far as Nebraska occasionally, and in the southern states; it breeds all along the sandy coasts from Labrador to Florida; it rarely goes far inland, and does not frequent rocky or muddy places. It is a very rapid flier and runner, and is so nearly the color of the sand on which it squats close when alarmed that it is hard to detect. The notes are very soft and mellow, approaching those of a song bird, whence its name. It is seldom pursued by sportsmen, on account of its small size, though its flesh is very delicate and savory. The European ring plover (C. Maticula, Linn.) so nearly resembles the C. semipalmatus of America as to be with difficulty distinguished from it.
There are about 40 other species of the genus charadrius. - In the genus squatarola (Cuv.) the bill is nearly as long as the head, strong and straight; tail long, broad, and rounded; hind toe very small, not touching the ground. Two species are described, found in both hemispheres, migrating from the temperate to arctic and antarctic regions, where they pass the warmer months; they frequent river margins and marshes as well as the seashore, running with rapidity and uttering at the same time a shrill piping whistle; the food consists of worms, slugs, and various insects; the nest is a slight hollow in the ground lined with dry grass. The black-bellied plover (8. Helvetica, Cuv.) is the largest of the American birds of this group, having a length of about 12 in. Most of the lower parts, the front of the neck, and around the base of the bill to the eyes, are black; above white, nearly pure on the forehead, barred with brownish black on the back and tail, and tinged with ashy on the sides; abdomen, under tail coverts, and tibiae white; quills brownish black; bill and legs black. In winter the plumage is dark brown above, spotted with white and yellow, and white below, with dark brown lines and spots on the breast.
It is widely distributed over America, and along the seacoasts of most parts of the world; it migrates chiefly by night, resting and feeding by day; it is very shy except in the breeding season, which is the same as to time as in the other species. - The bird called the upland or field plover is Bartram's sandpiper, belonging to the subfamily totaninw, and is the actiturus Bartramius (Bonap.), or tringa Bartramia(Wils.). It is 12 in. long; the bill is longer than the head, curved at the tip, the cleft extending nearly to the eyes; the upper mandible is grooved for three fourths of its length, and the feathers extend on it further than on the lower; wings and legs long; tarsus longer than middle toe; outer toe most webbed; tail more than half the wing, graduated. The general color is brownish black above with a greenish lustre, the feathers edged with ashy white and yellow; lateral tail coverts yellowish white, with black arrowheads; wide stripe over eye and under parts pale yellowish white, nearly pure white on abdomen, with brownish black lines on the neck; legs light yellow. This is the most terrestrial of the family, frequenting as its name imports the upland dry places, sometimes in the neighborhood of and at others far removed from the sea.
It is spread over eastern North America, South America, and Europe, very abundant in the interior of the Atlantic states, preferring plains and cultivated fields; it is one of the few species which have not decreased with extended civilization. It passes the winter in the vast prairies of the southwest, going in spring and summer as far north even as the Saskatchewan, returning in the autumn; it is seen in large and small flocks, and sometimes in pairs; it is very wary, a swift flier, and a rapid runner; the notes are plaintive and mellow; the food consists of beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, seeds, and berries; it is fat and juicy in the autumn, and excellent eating; the habits are the same as in the true plovers, which, though ranked among waders, rarely enter the water except on the very edge of the sea and ponds.
Golden Plover (Charadrius Virginicus).
Upland Plover (Actiturus Bartramius).