Bird Database

Black-bellied Plover

(Pluvialis squatarola)

State of the Birds
At a Glance





Strongly Decreasing


Climate change, Human disturbance

Conservation Actions

Protect coastal habitats, Minimize disturbanceto shorebrids

Black-bellied Plover

(Pluvialis squatarola)

Like most of our shorebirds, the Black-bellied Plover only occurs in New Hampshire during migration, and primarily in late summer and fall. In spring and early summer it lives up to its name, with a totally black face and underparts contrasting with speckled gray upperparts. As summer progresses into fall however, adult plovers gradually replace this plumage with one that is uniformly dull gray-brown, which led this species to be named “Grey Plover” in England. Even without their black bellies they can be told from other shorebirds by their larger size and short thicker bills. Juvenile plovers migrate south later and look like winter adults, although their plumage is crisper and gives them a speckled appearance. The American Golden-Plover looks similar in all plumages and a field guide is recommended. This species is far less common and more likely to occur inland or in grassy habitats.

When Black-bellied Plovers are visiting the New Hampshire coastline, they are most likely seen on the extensive mudflats of Hampton-Seabrook Harbor at low tide. Their typical foraging behavior consists of short runs interspersed with stops to capture or search for prey, which are typically large marine worms, clams and mussels, and crustaceans. As the tide comes in they are eventually forced to high tide roost sites in the salt marsh around the periphery of the harbor, and are infrequent at the beach roosts used by smaller species. Unfortunately, with rising sea levels the areas currently used for roosts are at risk of being flooded, especially at the highest tides, meaning that plovers and other shorebirds may have to fly farther to find safe resting places.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Black-bellied Plover
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count