Common Ringed Plover
Charadrius hiaticula - Grand Gravelot Pluvier grand-gravelot
- Size: 20 cm
- Wingspan: 48 à 57 cm.
- Weight: 55 à 75 g
On the Eurasian continent, with the exception of the Far Eastern Long-billed Plover (Gravelot), there are two closely related and easily confused species, the Common Ringed Plover (or Great Gravelot) and the Little Ringed Plover (or Little Gravelot), especially outside the breeding season.
The adult breeding Common Ringed Plover can be recognized by its larger size (in direct comparison), its dark eye hardly visible on a black background, the larger white forehead patch and the bright orange beak (with a black tip) and legs. The female can be distinguished from the male by the ear coverts and chest band covered with brown. The non-breeding plumage resembles that of the breeding one, but it is less uniform above, the black is replaced by dark brown and finally the beak and legs are more dull. It can sometimes happen that the eye appears with a very light orange orbital ring reminiscent of the Semipalmated Plover, but this ring is very different from the bright yellow ring of the Little Ringed Plover.
The juvenile is brownish above with the scales edged in beige to give a scaly appearance. The head resembles that of the wintering adult, but with a junction between the forehead and the eyebrow of a less pure whiteness and a completely black beak. Beware, the beak of a Common Ringed Plover feeding may be completely covered with mud and thus look dark. In the young Little Ringed Plover, the head is much more uniform with a pale line barely marked above the eye and especially with the diagnostic yellow orbital ring.
Finally, in all plumages, the bird in flight shows a clear white wing bar along the length of the wing at the base of the remiges. The Little Ringed Plover does not have one.
Two subspecies exist that differ only in minor details.
Subspecific information 3 subspecies
- Charadrius hiaticula hiaticula (British Isles and w France to s Norway, s Sweden and the Baltic States)
- Charadrius hiaticula psammodromus (ne Canada, Greenland, Iceland)
- Charadrius hiaticula tundrae (n Eurasia)
- Grand Gravelot,
- Chorlitejo grande,
- parti lile,
- Corriere grosso,
- större strandpipare,
- kulík piesočný,
- kulík písečný,
- Stor Præstekrave,
- corriol anellat gros,
- sieweczka obrożna,
- smilšu tārtiņš,
- komatni deževnik,
Voice song and cries
The regular call is a soft, rising and somewhat plaintive hui or Tui or uit (the one of the Common Ringed Plover is harder and falling, inverting the vowels piu piu...). The song has the same pitch as the call and is composed of a succession of notes reminiscent of Tui Tui Tui Tui Tui... and modulated.
The Common Ringed Plover breeds mainly on sandy or shingle beaches along the Arctic coast or around waterbodies in tundra.
During the winter, the species can be found both on coastal areas and in suitable inland areas. These spaces need to be large, unvegetated and easily accessible. Substrate quality is secondary, but preference is given to mudflats. During migration, the habitats are the same, but it can make do with smaller surfaces. Occasionally, it may be found resting on short grasslands or crops, probably due to earthworms.
Behaviour character trait
As with most waders, there is a strong contrast between the territoriality and individualism which prevails during the breeding season of the Common Ringed Plover and the gregariousness which becomes the rule during the inter-season.
Another characteristic is the loyalty of the pairs of one year to the next. Due to strong philopatry, members of the pair reunite on the breeding grounds after wintering and recombine.
The Common Ringed Plover is not shy and can be fairly easily approached, but it must be avoided on its territory unless precautions are taken.
During bird observation in flight, one should be attentive to the very visible white wing bar on the remiges (The Common Ringed Plover only has a faint pale line, therefore not very visible, at the tip of the coverts). Its flight is fast but less than that of a sandpiper.
Its diet consists of small invertebrates, crustaceans (isopods, amphipods), small mollusks, annelids (polychaetes and oligochaetes), insects (ants, beetles, dipterans and their larvae (eg. Chironomids)...), myriapods, etc.
The breeding period extends from April to August depending on the latitude. In the southern part of its range, nesting starts in April while in the Arctic it can take until June or July.
The nest is a shallow scrape usually placed beyond the high tide mark on pebble or sandy beaches. Adults will line it with pebbles, vegetation and bits of debris. Females usually lay 4 eggs (3 to 5) that both sexes will incubate, swapping turns for at least three weeks. Incubation starts with the last egg so that all eggs will hatch simultaneously and the chicks can leave the nest quickly. The chicks have cryptic duck down, which is the same color as the sand or pebbles, grayish-beige with dark spots. The white collar is already present, which will last until adulthood. Their legs are disproportionated. They will fly away at 24 days after hatching, so their development is fast.
The Common Ringed Plover breeds in Greenland, Iceland, and along the length of the Eurasian Arctic and some of its islands. It does not nest in Spitsbergen. In Western Europe, its breeding range encompasses the coasts of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Scattered nesting on the continent has been reported from Germany to Ukraine.
The species is entirely migratory and, from France, wintering individuals migrate to the Atlantic coasts, all of the sub-Saharan Africa, the southern Mediterranean littoral, the Red Sea coast, the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean islands up to Madagascar, and a little to the south of the Indian Subcontinent.
Generally, migrations are maritime for the nominate subspecies and continental for the tundrae subspecies of the Russian Arctic.
Threats - protection
IUCN conservation status
in the Wild
The species is reported to be in decline, particularly in Europe, but is not globally listed as threatened by BirdLife International. However, locally this can be different. In France for example, the species has a limited area and a population of 100 couples or barely more. Therefore, it is vulnerable. The species may suffer from damage to the integrity of important migratory stopping points, such as the Baltic coast threatened by oil pollution.
Sources of information
- IOC World Bird List (v13.2), Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2023.
- Limicoles, gangas et pigeons d'Europe, Paul Géroudet (mise à jour Georges Olioso)
- Shorebirds, an identification guide to the waders of the world, Peter Hayman, John Marchant Tony Prater
- Avibase, Lepage Denis
- BirdLife International, BirdLife International
- Birds of the World, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- xeno-canto, Sharing bird sounds from around the world,
Translation by AI Oiseaux.net
published: 16-02-2021 - Updated: 16-02-2021
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