PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER (Pluvialis fulva) – Kolea – Visitor
DESCRIPTION: The Pacific Golden Plover breeding male has a black head, neck and breast, lined with a white border. The underside is also black. The non-breeding plumage is mottled brown and tawn on top and there is a light beige line above the eye. The under parts are light beige. The bill is black and the legs are grey. The eyes are black and large relative to the head size. Sexes are similar. It is a tall plover at about 10 inches (25 cm) long.
NAME: The English name ‘Plover’ comes from the Latin genus name ‘Pluvialis’, because it was believed that plovers were somehow associated with rain, but according to author Ernest A. Choate this is not the case. The Latin species name ‘fulva’ refers to the brown-orange plumage color.
HABITAT: Arctic tundra with some vegetation in the summer. During the winter the habitat is much more diversified: fields, parks, airports, marshes, golf courses. In Hawaii it is a solitary bird, seen frequently in parks, and occupying the same area year after year, defending their territory aggressively.
DIET: This plover eats mainly insects and crustaceans, also some berries. It walks slowly or rapidly then stops, and starts again until it catches a prey.
NESTING: The nest is a simple scrape on the bare ground and is lined with vegetation such as lichens and moss. Four beige eggs are laid. The chicks can walk right after bird and can find their own food.
DISTRIBUTION: The breeding range of the Pacific golden plover is located in Siberia and western Alaska. During its migration, this plover species will go as far south as Australia and New Zealand (see reference below). On Hawaii, the Pacific golden plover is a winter visitor, but some individuals will spend the summer there too.
CONSERVATION: The total population of the Pacific golden plover is roughly estimated at some 200,000 individuals and is listed as ‘least concern’ because of its very large range. This plover used to be hunted in Hawaii but is now protected, and is very common in that state. However it is hunted in other areas of its wintering habitat and the latter can also be threatened by environmental degradation.
NOTES: Research has provided more information on migration patterns (flight speed, etc.) of the Pacific golden plover by tracking them.
SIMILAR SPECIES: American Golden Plover (with which it formerly was considered conspecific until it was found that the two species do not interbreed), European Golden Plover, Black-bellied Plover (or Grey Plover).
Fact sheet from Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources: Pacific Golden Plover – Hawaii DLNR – Oct. 2005
The video below shows a Pacific golden plover well camouflaged on a rocky shore thanks to its mottled plumage:
This Pacific golden plover below was filmed in a busy area of Waikiki. On their wintering grounds in Hawaii, they are solitary and just ‘mind their own business’.