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Species Guide
A photo of a Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Common Ringed Plover

Common Ringed Plover

Charadrius hiaticula

The common ringed plover, Charadrius hiaticula, is a diminutive wader, with adults measuring 17–19.5 cm in length and boasting a wingspan of 35–41 cm. Its plumage is a harmonious blend of grey-brown on the back and wings, while the underparts remain a pristine white. A distinctive black neckband adorns the white breast, complementing the brown cap and white forehead. A striking black mask encircles the eyes, and the bill presents a vivid orange with a black tip. The legs are a vibrant orange, and it is worth noting that only the outer two toes exhibit slight webbing.

Identification Tips

When identifying the common ringed plover, look for the single black neckband and the lack of webbing between the innermost toe, which sets it apart from the similar semipalmated plover. Juveniles may appear somewhat duller, with a grey-brown breast band that is often incomplete, a dark bill, and legs of a dull yellowish-grey hue.


This species favors open ground on beaches or flats for its breeding habitat, spanning across northern Eurosiberia and into Arctic northeast Canada. Some populations also breed inland, and in western Europe, they can be found nesting as far south as northern France.


The common ringed plover is a migratory bird, with wintering grounds extending to coastal regions as far south as Africa. In Norway, studies have shown that adult breeding birds migrate to West Africa, while many individuals in Great Britain and northern France remain resident throughout the year.


A clever tactician when threatened, the common ringed plover will feign a broken wing to lure predators away from its nest, only to take flight once the danger is sufficiently distant.

Song & Calls

The calls of the common ringed plover, recorded in Norfolk, England, are characteristic of the species and can be heard along the coastlines where they reside.


These birds nest on the ground in open areas with scant vegetation. Their breeding range encompasses northern Eurosiberia and Arctic northeast Canada, with some extending their nesting grounds inland and as far south as northern France in western Europe.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the common ringed plover consists of insects, crustaceans, and worms, which they forage for on beaches, tidal flats, and fields, primarily using sight to locate their prey.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List has classified the common ringed plover as Least Concern, indicating that, currently, there are no immediate threats to its population numbers.

Similar Species

The common ringed plover can be confused with the little ringed plover and the semipalmated plover. However, it can be distinguished by its leg color, head pattern, and the absence of an obvious yellow eye-ring, which is present in the little ringed plover. The semipalmated plover has a slightly narrower breast band and more webbing between the toes.


There are three weakly defined subspecies of the common ringed plover:

  • C. h. psammodroma: Found breeding in Iceland, Greenland, and northeast Canada, wintering in West Africa. It is intermediate in size and color.
  • C. h. hiaticula: Breeds from temperate western Europe to central Scandinavia, either resident or migrating short distances to southwest Europe. It is the largest and palest subspecies.
  • C. h. tundrae: Breeds in Arctic northern Scandinavia and Asiatic Russia, wintering in Africa and southwest Asia. It is the smallest and darkest subspecies.

The subspecies C. h. hiaticula and C. h. tundrae are included in the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

Common Ringed Plover Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Common Ringed Plover Fun Facts

Did you know?
Common Ringed Plovers defend their nests by acting injured to draw predators away from the chicks.

Common Ringed Plovers on Birda


More Plovers

A photo of a Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) , male

Kentish Plover

Charadrius alexandrinus
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