Black-bellied Plover: some ID Notes

While looking for shorebird habitat S of Richmond Ont., I observed an adult Black-bellied Plover (almost entirely finished its molt into definitive basic, aka: non-breeding, plumage) on the S side of Brophy Dr., about 300 m E of the McCordick/Eagleson intersection.

Observation time was 1915 PM. Certainly a good time of year to see Black-bellied and/or American Golden-Plover in plowed, damp agr. fields. The crown jewel, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, as well as Baird’s Sandpiper also like these drier sites (esp. sod farms for Buff-breasted). A distant juvenile/non-breeding Black-bellied/American-Golden can be separated by:

Black-bellied is robust w/ a thick neck, large head, and large bill
– The “face” is relatively plain (low contrast)
– The primary extension is quite minimal at most angles

American-Golden is dainty, thin-necked, small & “dove” headed, thin bill
– The “face” is high contrast, derived from the combination of a darkish top of head, well-defined white supercillium, and thin, dark eyeline.
– Primaries extend beyond tail tip at most angles

In flight, Black-bellied show dark axillaries (wing pits), and a white “rump.” American-Golden do not have dark axillaries and they showcase a brownish “rump.”


Photo: Adult Black-bellied Plover nearing definitive basic (non-breeding) plumage. 8 August 2015.


O’Brien, M., R. Crossley, and K. Karlson. 2006. The Shorebird Guide. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.