Pacific Golden Plovers eat mainly bivalves and other molluscs on their
grounds; as well as worms, crustaceans, spiders. During breeding season;
berries are important, with snacks of seeds and leaves.
Pacific Golden Plovers find their food mainly by sight (as opposed to
probing in the ground with their bills). They forage in a peck-and-run
method; running quickly in an upright position, pausing to peck, then
running again. Their preferred foraging ground is intertidal mudflats.
Gregarious birds, Pacific Golden Plovers migrate, feed and roost in
large flocks: usually up to 50, but more at good feeding sites.
plover on its nest
Breeding: Pacific Golden Plovers breed in Siberian tundra and in West
Alaska in June-July. Males usually return to the same nest site, even to
the same spot. They form monogamous pairs. Relying on their excellent
camouflage to avoid predators, they simply nest on the ground.
They prefer well-vegetated well-drained tundra, often on hillsides,
ridges or raised polygons. The nest is just a shallow scrape lined with
lichens. 4 eggs are laid, incubated by both parents (26 days). Soon
after hatching, the chicks and parents move off to moist shrubby or
grassy tundra. When threatened, the parent distracts the predator from
the nest or chicks by pretending to have a broken wing. Both parents
raise the young, but if the brood is late, only by the male.
Migration: Phenomenal long-distance travellers, after breeding in the
Arctic, these plovers migrate to spend winter almost half way around the
world (5,000-13,000km away one-way). Some winter on tiny islands in the
Pacific and Indian Oceans, a feat which requires precise navigation.
Alaskan breeders winter in Hawaii, Fiji, South Pacific Islands, all the
way to New Zealand. Siberian breeders migrate to Africa, India,
Indochina, Southeast Asia all the way to Australia. Most winter on
coastal mudflats, beaches, reefs. But they may also be found inland on
short grasslands (such as airfields) or around freshwater pools, lakes,
rivers, marshes, rice fields.
Status and threats: Like other waders, Pacific Golden Plovers are
threatened by habitat destruction and water pollution. They are shy and
easily scared off feeding sites by human disturbance. In the past, they
were hunted in India.