Collared plover (Charadrius collaris)

Also known as: Azara’s plover, Azara’s sandplover, Azara’s sand-plover
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderCharadriiformes
FamilyCharadriidae
GenusCharadrius (1)
SizeLength: 14 - 18 cm (2) (3)
Weight26 - 35 g (2) (3)

The collared plover is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The collared plover (Charadrius collaris) is a small shorebird with pale brown upperparts, white underparts and a distinctive narrow black band across the breast. The head is attractively marked with a white forehead and throat, black central crown, chestnut rear crown and nape (back of the neck), and a thin black line between the beak and the eye (2) (3) (4) (5). Unlike many other plovers, there is no white collar around the back of the neck (4). The tail of the collared plover is dark, with white sides, and the flight feathers are darker than the rest of the wings, with a white line (3). The legs are long and yellowish, and the beak is black, and quite long and slender (3) (4) (5).

The male and female collared plover are similar in appearance, but the female may have less extensive chestnut markings on the head, and the black markings may appear brownish (2). Juveniles are duller, with buff edges to the feathers on the upperparts, a less distinct breast band, and reduced or absent black and chestnut markings on the head (2) (3) (4). Two subspecies of collared plover are sometimes recognised, with Charadrius collaris gracilis having slightly shorter wings than Charadrius collaris collaris (2) (6). The calls of the collared plover have been described as a sharp pweet or dreep, and a rolling kerrp or slightly trilled tur-r-r (3) (4) (6).

The collared plover is found in Central and South America, from Mexico south to Chile and Argentina (2) (3) (4) (6) (7), with the subspecies C. c. gracilis occurring from Mexico to northern Brazil (2). The collared plover also occurs in parts of the Caribbean (4) (7), and may be extending its range further along the coast of Chile (2) (8). Although this species does not generally migrate (2), some populations may undertake seasonal movements related to changes in water levels (3) (6).

As well as estuaries and sandy or gravel coastal beaches, the collared plover also inhabits inland wetlands, riverbanks, and exposed sand bars on rivers (2) (3) (4) (6), and is sometimes found on open sandy savannas (2).

Usually found alone, in pairs or occasionally in small, loose flocks, sometimes alongside other small plover species (2) (3) (5) (6), the collared plover forages in a manner typical of plovers, running a short distance before stopping abruptly and pecking around for prey (3) (6). The diet includes a variety of invertebrates, including insects such as water beetles, dragonflies and ants, as well as insect larvae, small crustaceans and gastropods (2) (3) (5) (6), and sometimes also seeds (2).

The breeding season of the collared plover varies with location, generally ranging from November to December in western Mexico (2), March to June in Central America, and May to September in South America (6). The nest is a small depression in the ground, in sand or on dry soil (3) (5), and may be lined with shells and other pieces of debris (3). Two eggs are usually laid (2) (3) (4), and are pale cream with dark spots (3) (4).

The collared plover has an extensive range and is not currently considered at risk of extinction (7). However, its overall population is believed to be decreasing (7), with the main threat to the species likely to be habitat loss and degradation, to which the collared plover is thought to be quite sensitive (3).

There are no known specific conservation measures currently targeted at the collared plover.

To find out more about the collared plover and its conservation, see:

For more information on plover species, 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:
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  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2010)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1996) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Ramos-Ordoñez, M.F., Rodríguez-Flores, C., Soberanes-González, C. and Arizmendi, M.C. (2010) Collared plover (Charadrius collaris). In: Schulenberg, T.S. (Ed.) Neotropical Birds Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca. Available at:
    http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=145396
  4. Hilty, S.L. and Brown, W.L. (1986) A Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
  5. Aves de Chile (December, 2010)
    http://www.avesdechile.cl/
  6. O’Brien, M., Crossley, R. and Karlson, K. (2006) The Shorebird Guide. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.
  7. BirdLife International (December, 2010)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=3134