American Golden Plover

This medium sized plover boasts one of the most incredible migrations.  While many migrating birds visit twice during the spring and fall, the American Golden Plover uses a circular migration route.  Therefore it travels through the Houston area only in the spring. In the fall the plover flies offshore from the East Coast of North America nonstop to South America flying over the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. The American Golden Plover’s wintering grounds in South America include Patagonia, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina. They have one of the longest migration journeys which covers 25,000 miles.  It is amazing that about 2,500 miles of this is over open seas where the plover has no chance to drink or eat. When these migrating flocks were timed, they ranged in speed from 60-70 m.p.h.  In the spring, the northbound birds pass through Central United States stopping to stage in large numbers before their final push up into the northern arctic tundra regions of Alaska and Canada where they will nest and raise their young. The American Golden Plover’s arctic breeding grounds provide safety from humans and many predators due to the starkness of their habitat. They nest on the ground in open dry areas.   As soon as they arrive on their breeding grounds, males begin their territorial display flights and pair bonds take place.  The males make a nest scrape and line it with soft lichens.  The females produce four eggs. There is an interesting split of incubation duties, females incubate by night and the males incubate by day.  The chicks, like most ground birds, are precocial and feed themselves with a few hours of hatching.  Both parents stay with the young until they are ready to fly. The [...]