Saturday, August 22, 2015

Black-bellied Plover and Ruddy Turnstone

We often saw Black-bellied Plovers and Ruddy Turnstones running on the Sanibel Island beach last March. Both species were in molt, with the turnstone further along than the plover. A breeding plover, as its name suggests, will have black underparts. Both species undergo an incomplete Definitive Prealternate molt to take them into breeding plumage. Among plovers, males undergo a more extensive molt than do the females. The sexes of turnstone undergo a much more similar molt. This Black-bellied Plover has a way to go to achieve breeding plumage. Turnstones are in breeding plumage in late April through mid May (Paulson 1995; Nettleship 2000). The turnstone in my photo is much closer to breeding plumage than is the plover.

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