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A photo of a Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus), male
Lesser Sand Plover, Male

Lesser Sand Plover

Charadrius mongolus

The Siberian sand plover, Anarhynchus mongolus, presents itself as a robust wader with a preference for long legs and a pronounced bill. During the breeding season, the male boasts a striking plumage with a grey back and pristine white underparts. A rich chestnut adorns its breast, forehead, and nape, complemented by a distinctive black mask around the eyes. The female, by contrast, exhibits a more subdued appearance, and outside the breeding season, the birds forgo the chestnut hues, retaining only a faint rufous touch on the head. Their legs are cloaked in darkness, and their bills are of the deepest black.

Identification Tips

When attempting to distinguish the Siberian sand plover from its close relative, the greater sand plover, one must consider several subtle yet critical characteristics. The Siberian is marginally smaller and sports a shorter bill. Its legs are typically darker, ranging from black to grey, while the greater sand plover's legs may appear lighter, from grey to a yellowish tint. The Siberian's white forehead and more consistent white wing bar offer additional clues for the discerning observer.

Habitat

The Siberian sand plover favors the barren coastal plains of northeastern Siberia for breeding, where it can be found alongside the Mongolian plover in the eastern reaches of its range.

Distribution

This species is a true globe-trotter, breeding discontinuously across the vast expanse of northeastern Siberia and even venturing to Alaska. Come winter, it migrates to the sandy shores of east and southeast Asia, where it can be seen in the company of other shorebirds.

Behaviour

The Siberian sand plover engages in a distinctive run-and-pause foraging strategy, targeting insects, crustaceans, and annelid worms. This method involves fewer steps and shorter pauses compared to the greater sand plover, a detail that may aid birdwatchers in identification. Its flight call is a crisp trill, a sound that resonates across the landscape as it takes to the air.

Song & Calls

The flight call of the Siberian sand plover is a distinctive hard trill, serving as an auditory beacon for those attuned to the sounds of avian life.

Breeding

Nesting within a simple ground scrape, the Siberian sand plover lays a clutch of three eggs, embracing the austere landscape as a cradle for its young.

Similar Species

The greater sand plover, Charadrius leschenaultii, is the most similar species to the Siberian sand plover. The two can be differentiated by size, bill length, leg color, and the consistency of the white wing bar.

Diet and Feeding

The Siberian sand plover's diet consists of insects, crustaceans, and annelid worms, which it captures using its run-and-pause technique, a method that contrasts with the steady probing of other wader species.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List has classified the Siberian sand plover as Endangered, highlighting the urgent need for conservation efforts to ensure the survival of this remarkable species.

Lesser Sand Plover Sounds

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