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A photo of a Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii), male
Greater Sand Plover, Male

Greater Sand Plover

Charadrius leschenaultii

The Greater Sand Plover (Anarhynchus leschenaultii) is a small wader belonging to the plover family. This robust bird is characterized by its long legs and stout bill. Males in breeding plumage exhibit a striking appearance with grey backs and pristine white underparts, complemented by a rich chestnut coloration on the breast, forehead, and nape, as well as a distinctive black mask around the eyes. Females are somewhat less vivid, and outside the breeding season, the birds present a more subdued look, with juveniles and winter adults showing only faint rufous hints on the head.

Identification Tips

To distinguish the Greater Sand Plover from its close relative, the Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus), one should note its larger size and more robust structure. The greenish legs and black bill are also key features to observe. In wintering flocks, these differences are more apparent, but caution is advised when identifying solitary vagrants, particularly in regions where both species are rare.

Habitat

The Greater Sand Plover favors semi-desert regions for breeding, where it makes its nest in simple ground scrapes.

Distribution

This species has a broad breeding range that extends from the semi-deserts of Turkey through Central Asia. It is a highly migratory bird, seeking winter refuge on sandy beaches across East Africa, South Asia, and Australasia. While it is a rare visitor to western Europe, it has been recorded as far west as Iceland and has made sporadic appearances in North America.

Behaviour

The Greater Sand Plover employs a run-and-pause foraging strategy to capture its prey, which contrasts with the steady probing technique used by some other waders. This bird is also known for its migratory habits, undertaking long journeys between its breeding and wintering grounds.

Song & Calls

The flight call of the Greater Sand Plover is a gentle trill, often heard during its migratory flights.

Diet and Feeding

Its diet consists predominantly of insects, crustaceans, and annelid worms, which it adeptly captures using its specialized foraging technique.

Conservation status

The Greater Sand Plover is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. It is also one of the species protected under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

Greater Sand Plover Sounds

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Greater Sand Plovers on Birda

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