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Golden plover Pluvialis apricaria Profile of an adult on open moorland. Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK Photographer.Andrew Parkinson

Golden Plover

Pluvialis Apricaria

Key Facts

  • Length: 26-29cm
  • Wingspan: 72cm
  • Weight: 220g
  • Average Lifespan: 4 years

The golden plover is just a little smaller than the lapwing, with which it often gathers in large numbers on farmland and coastal flats during the winter. In summer it is found in upland moorland habitats where it breeds from May to September.

How to Identify

In the summer, adult golden plovers have a black throat, chest and belly, surrounded by a band of white and topped with a distinctive, spotted-gold and black back and cap. In winter, adults lose the black and have a yellow throat, chest and belly. In mixed flocks, golden plovers can be distinguished from lapwings by their sharp, pointed wings – lapwings have bluntly rounded wings. As individuals, the golden plover can be distinguished from the larger grey plover by its golden spots and delicate bill.

Where to find

Nests on moorlands in Scotland, northern England, Wales and Devon. Spends the winter on farmland and on muddy estuaries around the coast.

How People Can Help

Golden plovers are under threat from changes in land use and farming practices. Local Wildlife Trusts across the country are looking after wetland and moorland habitats for the benefit of birds like plovers. Ensuring breeding birds are not disturbed, wetland and moorland nature reserves are well-managed and farmers use wildlife-friendly farming practices are just some of the ways we’re helping. You can help too: volunteer for The Wildlife Trusts and you could be involved in everything from clearing scrub to monitoring populations or raising awareness about nesting birds. And don’t forget to keep dogs on leads in areas where ground-nesting birds are breeding.

Did you know?

There are two other species of golden plover: the American golden plover (which breeds in Canada and Alaska and winters in South America) and the Pacific golden plover (which breeds northern Asia and winters in South Asia and Australia). Both species are extremely rare visitors to Britain each year.

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