European Golden Plover
|European Golden Plover|
|Adult in breeding plumage|
The European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) is a largish plover. This species is similar to two other golden plovers. American Golden Plover, Pluvialis dominiica, and Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva, are both smaller, slimmer and relatively longer-legged than European Golden Plover, and both have grey rather than white axillary feathers (only properly visible in flight).
Breeding adults are spotted gold and black on the crown, back and wings. Their face and neck are black with a white border; they have a black breast and a dark rump. The legs are black. In winter, the black is lost and the plover then has a yellowish face and breast and white underparts.
Breeding habitat 
Their breeding habitat is moorland and tundra in the northernmost parts of Europe and western Asia. They nest on the ground in a dry open area. They are migratory and winter in southern Europe and north Africa. Around 500,000 birds winter in Ireland and Great Britain. Although generally common, its range has contracted somewhat in the past due to habitat destruction. For example, in the 19th century it disappeared as a breeding bird in Poland and only occurs there as a migrant nowadays; its breeding population in Central Europe apparently was a relict of the last ice age (Tomek & Bocheński, 2005).
These birds forage for food on tundra, fields, beaches and tidal flats, usually by sight, although they will also feed by moonlight. They eat insects and crustaceans, also berries.
The European Golden Plover is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
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- Tomek, T. & Bocheński, Z. (2005). Weichselian and Holocene bird remains from Komarowa Cave, Central Poland. Acta Zoologica Cracoviensia, 48A(1-2), 43-65. PDF fulltext