Ringed Plover

Scientific name: Charadrius hiaticula

Did you know: The Ringed Plover can tempt underground prey to the surface by rapidly tapping its feet, mimicking raindrops!

What Do Ringed Plovers Look Like? (how to identify them)

Ringed Plovers, small yet striking waders, display a distinctive mix of brownish-grey and white plumage. Their orange bill, tipped with black, and orange legs add a splash of colour. Their heads and breasts are adorned with a unique black-and-white pattern. In flight, they reveal a prominent white wing-stripe. 

These birds, measuring 18 to 20 cm in length with a wingspan of 48 to 57cm, are easily identifiable by their rotund shape and short legs.

Differences Between Male and Female Ringed Plovers

Distinguishing between male and female Ringed Plovers can be subtle. 

Males generally have more vividly coloured plumage and a more pronounced black-and-white head pattern, especially during the breeding season. However, these differences are not always prominent, making it challenging to distinguish them based solely on appearance.

What Do Ringed Plovers Eat?

Ringed Plovers have a diet rich in small invertebrates. They primarily consume flies, spiders, marine worms, crustaceans, and molluscs. 

These birds are known for their unique foraging technique, where they stand still, run forward to peck, and then pause again, often ‘foot-trembling’ to mimic rainfall and draw prey out.

Where Do Ringed Plovers Live? (inc. migration info)

Ringed Plovers are versatile in their habitat choice, residing in marine, intertidal, wetland, and grassland environments. In the UK, over 5,450 pairs breed on beaches, in gravel pits, and occasionally on former industrial sites. While many UK birds are year-round residents, others migrate. Birds from Europe winter in Britain, and those from Greenland and Canada pass through during migration.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Ringed Plovers)

Ringed Plovers have a distinctive call, a sharp and clear ‘peep’ often heard during their energetic flights. Their calls are an integral part of their social interactions, especially in breeding grounds.

Fun Ringed Plover Facts (kid-friendly)

  • Ringed Plovers can live up to 5 years.
  • These birds use a clever trick to protect their nests by pretending to have a broken wing to lure predators away.
  • When Ringed Plover chicks hatch, they are already camouflaged and can ‘hide’ in plain sight.
  • They are skilled travellers, with some migrating from as far as Greenland and Canada.
  • Unlike many birds, Ringed Plovers can be seen in the UK throughout the year.
  • They have a unique way of hunting by tapping their feet to trick worms into thinking it’s raining.
  • The Ringed Plover’s Latin name, Charadrius hiaticula, means ‘cleft-dweller’, referring to their habitat in ravines and valleys.
  • These birds are part of the ‘wading birds’ category, adept at foraging in shallow waters.
  • Ringed Plovers are considered a conservation priority in the UK, classified under the Red status.

Ringed Plover Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile

Facts About The Ringed Plover

Diet: Flies, spiders, marine worms, crustaceans, molluscs.
Bird Family: Plovers
Length: 18-20cm
Wingspan: 48-57cm
Weight: 55-75g
Scientific Name: Charadrius hiaticula

The Ringed Plover Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December