Collared plover (Charadrius collaris)
|Also known as:||Azara’s plover, Azara’s sandplover, Azara’s sand-plover|
|Size||Length: 14 - 18 cm (2) (3)|
|Weight||26 - 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:
Neotropical Birds Online - Collared Plover (Charadrius collaris):
For more information on plover species, see:
BBC Wildlife Finder:
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- Crustaceans: diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (parts of the mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, woodlice and barnacles.
- Flight feathers: the feathers at the end of the wing, involved in flight.
- Gastropods: a group of molluscs that have a well-defined head, an unsegmented body and a broad, flat foot. They can possess a single, usually coiled shell or no shell at all. Includes slugs, snails and limpets.
- Invertebrates: animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and echinoderms.
- Larvae: stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
- Subspecies: a population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
IUCN Red List (December, 2010)
- del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1996) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
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:
- Hilty, S.L. and Brown, W.L. (1986) A Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
Aves de Chile (December, 2010)
- O’Brien, M., Crossley, R. and Karlson, K. (2006) The Shorebird Guide. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.
BirdLife International (December, 2010)