Sunday 19 May
Caspian plover (Charadrius asiaticus)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Caspian plover fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Caspian plover description
The Caspian plover is a slim, upright bird with long, thin legs which allow it to wade in shallow water, and a black, narrow, pointed bill which allows it to pick small invertebrates from the ground. The plumage of the Caspian plover varies between the sexes. The male has a brilliant white forehead, throat and underparts, which stand out against the sandy-brown upper body and tail (4), and a rusty red breast which is bordered by a narrow, black band (4). The female, on the other hand, has a greyish, yellow breast and lacks the black breast band (4). During the winter months the plumage of both the males and the females becomes darker, as many of the white feathers are replaced by sandy-brown feathers. The plumage of the juvenile Caspian plover largely resembles the adults’ winter plumage, apart from a few of the wing feathers which have flashes of yellow around the edges (3). The Caspian plover is often silent, but can give a clear, whistling call (5).
- Pluvier asiatique.
Caspian plover biology
The Caspian plover feeds mainly on adult and larval insects present in grassland or arable pastures(3). This includes beetles, ants, caterpillars and flies (6). In the non-breeding season it is often found in urban areas, hunting for its invertebrate prey in refuse heaps(3).
During the breeding season, the Caspian plover builds a nest that is a scraped indentation on the groundamongst loose vegetation, intricately lined with grass and small stones (7). Into the nest the female will typically lay three eggs(3),between the months of April and May of each year (7). Both parents contribute to the incubation of the eggs for around 30 days (6), with the female incubating during the day and the male during the night. The eggs will hatch between early May and June and the juveniles are fully capable of flight around a month after hatching (7). Building a nest on the ground means that Caspian plover eggs and chicks are vulnerable to predation. Many species that are closely related to the Caspian plover have evolved a variety of behavioural traits to defend their young from predators, such as adults pretending to have a broken wing in order to draw predators away from the nest (8); however, it is not clear whether the Caspian plover undertakes such ‘distraction displays’.
After the breeding season, the Caspian plover travels in flocks of five to ten birds to its wintering sites. Once there, it can be found in flocks of up to several hundred individuals (3).Top
Caspian plover range
The Caspian plover breeds in central Asia, mostly aggregating towards the north and the east of the Caspian Sea (6). It migrates vast distances during the winter to the more temperate climates of east and south-east Africa, which can be up to 6,000 miles from its breeding grounds, and is regularly seen in Iran, Iraq and around the Red Sea where it stops off to rest during its long migration (3). Once the Caspian plover has reached Africa, its main wintering sites are the upland plains of Kenya and Tanzania (3). It returns to the breeding grounds between March and April in the spring of the following year (3). Very occasionally the Caspian plover may be seen in Europe or Australasia (6).Top
Caspian plover habitat
The Caspian plover breeds in desert and desert steppe habitats, amongst sparse shrub vegetation near water,at altitudes of up to about 800 metres (6). It is predominantly associated with salt water habitats such as salt-pans, saline soils partial to seasonal flooding and inland salt marches (6). During the non-breeding season in Africa, it is often found far from water on recently burnt or heavily grazed grassland, dry floodplains, ploughed cultivated land and coastal dunes (6).Top
Caspian plover status
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Caspian plover threats
The main threat to the Caspian plover is the destruction of the natural steppe and grassland habitats in which it breeds, as a result of overgrazing and conversion to intensive agricultural practices (3). While this appears to be causing populations numbers to decline, these declines are not yet significant enough for his species to be considered threatened (1).Top
Caspian plover conservation
Although the population size of the Caspian plover is decreasing year on year, its numbers are still relatively high (3), and therefore there are currently no specific conservation measures known to be in place for this bird.Top
Find out more
To learn about bird conservation around the world see:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
- The act of incubating eggs, that is, keeping them warm so that development is possible.
IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
- Sinclair, I., Hockey, P. and Arlott, N. (2005) The Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
- Del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargata, J. (1996) Handbook of Birds of the World, Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Editions, Barcelona.
- Gavrilov, E.I. and Gavrilov, A.E. (2005) The Birds of Kazakhstan. Almaty, Kazakhstan.
- Sinclair, I. and Davidson, I. (2006) Southern African Birds: A Photographic Guide. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
BirdLife International (March, 2010)
Birds of Kazakhstan (November, 2009)
- Baker, A.J. (2007) Plover. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Foundation, Canada.
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.