Saturday, February 1, 2020

Black-bellied Plover

I returned to Boston Harbor, just north of Olympia, on 30 Janaury 2020. I searched for a Harlequin Duck reported roosting on a raft of logs in the marina. I had high hopes when I spied two larger birds among 80 Dunlin sleeping on the floating timber. But these bigger birds were not ducks. I did not expect to see Black-bellied Plovers.

In North America, Black-bellied Plovers breed in the Arctic and winter along the coasts of North and South America. This shorebird occurs further north than does any other plover—to southern Alaska in the west and Newfoundland in the east. Poole et al. (2016) surmise that this plover’s cold tolerance is due to its relatively large size and diverse prey preferences. Tbis hypothesis does not explain why the much smaller Dunlin have a similar, and slightly more northern, overall winter range.

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