Tuesday 21 May
Greater sand plover (Charadrius leschenaultii)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Greater sand plover fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Greater sand plover description
Although it has a relatively dull appearance for most of the year, the greater sand plover’s plumage changes during the breeding season (3). At this time, the crown changes from greyish-brown to a dull brick red, as does the white breast, and the small feathers that cover the ear region change colour from a dusky grey to black. The chin and throat remain white throughout the year, while the nape and forehead are a greyish-brown colour all year round (4). The call of the greater sand plover is a clear triii or trrirrrt sound (5).
- Also known as
- Greater sand-plover and large sand dotterel.
- Pluvier du désert. Top
- BirdLife International:
- Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.
- 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.
IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
Birds of Kazakhstan (November, 2009)
- Threatened Species Unit. (1999) Threatened Species Information: Greater Sand Plover. National Parks and Wildlife Service, NSW.
- Marchant, S. and Higgins, P. (1993) Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 2: Raptors to Lapwings. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
- Davidson, I. (2006) South African Birds: A Photographic Guide. Struik Publishers, South Africa.
- Smith, P. (1991) The Biology and Management of Waders (Suborder Charadrii) in NSW. NPWS, Hurstville.
BirdLife International (November, 2009)
- Del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2001) Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (November, 2009)
- 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.
Greater sand plover biology
The greater sand plover is a carnivorous species that varies its diet seasonally; during the breeding season it feeds mainly on terrestrial insects and their larvae, especially preying on midges, ants, beetles and termites, but also occasionally hunting larger animals such as lizards. During the non-breeding season, the greater sand plover mainly eats marine invertebrates, such as snails, worms, crabs and shrimp (7). Usually feeding at low tide on wet ground, just away from the water’s edge, the greater sand plover detects and catches prey with the help of good eyesight and the ability to sprint over short distances (3). A sociable species, the greater sand plover often feeds and roosts in flocks(3). It typically feeds in flocks of between two and fifty individuals but sometimes congregates in groups as large as one thousand whilst roosting (7), which is mainly done on sand bars at high tide (5).
Relatively little is known about the greater sand plover’s reproductive life, but it is thought to first breed at approximately two years old (8). During the breeding season, it migrates to an open area and builds a nest by scraping a shallow hole in gravel, sand or other barren site (7). It lays an average of three eggs around April and May and both parents care for the brood (3).
The greater sand plover migrates twice a year to and from breeding sites, beginning its migration between June and August, and arriving at wintering areas between July and November. The exact time of the migration and the length of time it takes depends on whether it spends the winter in south-east Asia, east Africa or southern Asia (7).Top
Greater sand plover range
The greater sand plover can be found all over Central Asia, from Armenia to the Aral Sea. It migrates further south during the winter and has been found all along the coast of the Indian Ocean, from South Africa to the Philippines, New Guinea, New Zealand and the west coast of Australia (6).Top
Greater sand plover habitat
During the breeding season the greater sand plover is found in open, uncultivated areas without much tree coverage. This includes areas of dried mud, silt and clay flats, and also hard salt pans which are usually heavily covered in plants that grow well in salty conditions. It generally breeds near water, typically within 20 kilometres, although some greater sand plovers are also found on rocky plains near mountains in desert and semi-desert (7).
In the non-breeding season the greater sand plover is found on sheltered sandy, shelly or muddy beaches. It may also be seen on dunes near the coast and salt marshes a little further inland. During migration it will often use salt lakes and brackish swamps with sandbanks and spits to roost on (7).Top
Greater sand plover status
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Greater sand plover threats
The greatest direct threat to the greater sand plover is the degradation and destruction of its wetland habitats, particularly in Australia, southern Africa and China. In Australia, agricultural and hydrological developments are rapidly reducing inland and coastal habitat (7), while wetlands in southern Africa, for example those in Walvis Bay, Namibia, have been reclaimed for suburb and port development. In China, the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River has also proved to be a serious threat, disrupting the plover’s habitat. Tourism and commercial hunting are also threatening the plover population in China, with many of the birds ending up on plates in restaurants (7).Top
Greater sand plover conservation
This species has a large population size and is not believed to be decreasing at an alarming rate, and it has therefore been classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List (1). Despite its non-threatened status, there are still strategies in place to further increase numbers, notably in New South Wales, Australia, where the Department of Environment and Conservation has identified three priority actions to help increase numbers. These focus on increasing community and landholder awareness of the species, minimising human disturbance at identified key foraging sites, and reviewing and collecting population size and distribution data every two years (3). The greater sand plover is also one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies (9), an agreement that covers 255 species of birds that are dependent on wetlands at some point during their lifecycle, and calls upon countries to work together to develop conservation action plans for these species (9).Top
Find out more
To learn about efforts to conserve wetlands visit:
For more information on this and other bird species please 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:
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:
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.