SHOREBIRDS of Africa

Most Shorebirds walk along shores probing for food with their thin sensitive bills. Bill length varies considerably so differing species can work the same shore and obtain different food supplies. Shorebirds include sandpipers, godwits, stilts, oystercatchers, plovers, and many more. Shorebirds belong to the Charadriiformes order which also includes the Gulls and Allies.
    Note: the term Shorebirds is used in the Americas; elsewhere "waders" is used. We will reserve "waders" for herons and allies.



Plovers

Order Charadriiformes    Family Charadriidae

The family Charadriidae contain the plovers, dotterels and lapwings. The term plover is often used to encompass all family members. The small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They hunt by sight, rather than by feel as longer-billed waders do. The largest plovers are the members of genus Vanellus and they are called lapwings.


Genus Charadrius
Many of these plovers and dotterels are characterised by breast bands or collars. They have relatively short bills and feed mainly on insects, worms or other invertebrates, which are obtained by a run-and-pause technique. They hunt by sight, rather than by feel.

Dotterel, Eurasian also Dotterel  Charadrius morinellus  Found: west North America (rare), Europe, Asia, Africa
The Eurasian Dotterel has a striking whitish supercilium in all plumages. Adults in summer are unmistakable, with a chestnut breast bordered above with white, black belly and warm brown back. The legs are yellow, and the short bill is black.
Image by: 1) Mark Jobling   2) n kenji - Japan   3, 4) Helwig Brunner  5) Frank Vassen - Belgium
1) Juvenile  2) nonbreeding  3, 4) Breeding  5) transitioning to nonbreeding



Plover, Caspian  Charadrius asiaticus  Found: Asia, Africa
The Caspian Plover has a white supercilium; gray-brown upperparts; white belly. Breeding male has chestnut breast; breeding female may have hint on chestnut on breast; nonbreeding have gray-brown.
Image by: 1) Hiyashi Haka  2) Marcel Holyoak - Israel
1) Female  2) Male


Plover, Chestnut-banded  Charadrius pallidus  Found: Africa
The Chestnut-banded Plover has pale upperparts; white forehead, neck, underparts; chestnut neck band. Africa's smallest plover.
Image by: 1)  Trevor Hardaker - Namibia  2) Jerry Oldenetttel - Namibia  3) David Bygott - Tanzania


Plover, Forbes's  Charadrius forbesi  Found; west Africa
The breeding Forbes's Plover has dark brown upperparts; white underparts with two black breast bands separated by white; gray crow; greenish-gray forehead, face; white supercilium extending beyond eyes to meet at back of head.
Similar to: Three-banded Plover. Three-banded Plover has white forehead; Forbes's Plover has gray forehead. Ranges do not overlap much.
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans  2) Seth of Rabi - Nigeria


Plover, Greater Sand  Charadrius leschenaultii  Found: Europe, Asia, Africa
The breeding male Greater Sand Plover has gray back; white underparts; chesnut nape, forehead, breast; black eye-mask; thick black bill; greenish legs. Female is duller. Nonbreeding lacks the chestnut.
Similar to: Lesser Sand Plover. Can be differentiated by size in a mixed flock. Greater Sand Plover has thicker bill.
Image by: 1, 3) Sergey Yeliseev  2, 4) Changhua Coast Conservation
1, 2, 4) Nonbreeding  3) Breeding


Plover, Kittlitz's  Charadrius pecuarius Found: Africa
The breeding Kittlitz;s Plover has gray-brown back, wings, crown; white forehead, throat; orange breast fading to white on lower belly; black line through eyes contining around the neck. Nonbreeding adult loose the distinctive face pattern but retain some orange on the breast.
Image by: 1) Craig Adam - South Africa  2) Trevor Hardaker - South Africa   3) Charlie Westerinen - Hwange Park in Zimbabwe   4) D. Gordon Robertson - Tanzania


Plover, Lesser Sand  also Mongolian Plover  Charadrius mongolus   Found: North America (Alaska), Asia, Africa, Australia
The breeding male Lesser Sand Plover has gray back; white underparts; chesnut nape, forehead, breast; black eye-mask; black bill. Female is duller. Nonbreeding lacks the chestnut.
Similar to: Greater Sand Plover. Can be differentiated by size in a mixed flock. Greater Sand Plover has thicker bill.
Image by: 1) JJ Harrison  2, 3) Lip Kee Yap- Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve   4) Charles Lam - Hong Long  5 , 6, 7) Dick Daniels - Madagascar
4) Breeding



Plover, Little Ringed  Charadrius dubius  Found: Europe, Asia, Africa
The Little Ringed Plover has gray-brown back, wings; brown cap; white forehead, throat, underparts; white neck collar with black neckband; black mask around the eyes; short dark bill; pink legs; yellow eye-ring.
Similar to: Ringed Plover. The Ringed Plover has wider black neckband; Little Ringed Plover has yellow eye-rings.
Image by: 1) Andreas Trepte  2) Frankie Chu  3) Karunakar Rayker - India  4) Graham Gavaghan 


Plover, Madagascar  Charadrius thoracicus  Found: Madagascar
The Madagascar Plover is the world's smallest plover. It has gray-brown upperparts, crown; white crown border; black eye-line, forehead border; white forehead, throat, underparts; black collar.
Image by: 1, 2, 3, 4) Dick Daniels - Morondava, Madagascar  5) Gail Hampshire 



Plover, Ringed also Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula   Found: North America (northeast Canada), Europe, Asia, Africa
The Ringed Plover has gray-brown back, wings; brown cap; white forehead, throat, underparts; white neck collar with substantial black neckband; black forehead band; black bill with orange base; orange legs.
Similar to: Little Ringed Plover. The Ringed Plover has wider black neckband; Little Ringed Plover has yellow eye-rings.
Image by: 1) Andreas Trepte  2, 3) Dick Daniels - Scotland  4) Cristiano Crolle - Texel, Holland   5. 6) Dick - Kenya  7, 8) Morondava, Madagascar


Plover, Three-banded Charadrius tricollaris   Found: eastern and southern Africa, Madagascar
The Three-banded Plover has brown upperparts; gray face; white forehead, lowerparts, supercilium which extends along nape; black then white then black bands on breast; red eye-ring; red bill with black end.
Similar to: Forbes's Plover. Three-banded Plover has white forehead; Forbes's Plover has gray forehead. Ranges do not overlap much.
Image by: 1) Alastair Rae - the Masai Mara   2) Arno Meintjes   3) Dick Daniels - Tanzania  4, 5. 6 Dick - Kenya



Plover, White-fronted  Charadrius marginatus  Found: Africa (south of the Sahara)
The breeding White-fronted Plover has medium brown upperparts; white forehead, throat, underparts; black eye-line, black frontal bar to crown; white underparts with variable buff wash to breast; black bill; yellowish-gray legs. Non-breeding adults are grayer than breeding adults; black head markings replaced by gray. Frontal bar is absent in some females. It feeds actively with fast runs like a Sanderling.
Image by: 1) Mboy68  2, 3) Ian White - South Africa and Botswana  4, 5, 6, 7) Dick Daniels - Morondava, Madagascar




Genus Pluvialis
In breeding plumage these medium sized plovers have mainly black underparts, and golden or silvery upperparts. They have relatively short bills and feed mainly on insects, worms or other invertebrates which are obtained by a run-and-pause technique. They hunt by sight, rather than by feel.

Plover, Black-bellied also Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola   Found: The Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia
The breeding Black-bellied Plover has black and white spotted upperparts; black face, throat, and underparts with white border; black legs, bill. Nonbreeding has brownish-gray back and head; faint brown upper breast; white supercilium, lower breast, belly; gray legs, bill.
Similar to: American Golden-Plover, European Golden-Plover, Pacific-Golden Plover. Golden-Plovers more golden than Black-bellied Plover.
Image by: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8) Dick Daniels - North Carolina   5) Peter Wallack
1 - 4) Non-breeding plumage   5 - 8) Breeding plumage



Plover, European  Golden-
  Pluvialis apricaria  Found: Europe, Asia, Africa
The breeding European Golden Plover has black and gold spotted upperparts; black face and throat with white border that extends to the flanks ; black underparts.
Similar to: Black-bellied Plover. European Golden-Plover is more golden than Black-bellied Plover.
Similar to: Eurasian Dotterel. Eurasian Dotterel is smaller and more compact than European Golden Plover.
Image by: 1) MPF - Northumberland, UK  2) Bjørn Christian Tørrissen - Norway 3) Goldregenpfeifer
1) Nonbreeding  2, 3) Breeding


Plover, Pacific Golden- Pluvialis fulva   Found: North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia
The breeding Pacific Golden Plover has black and gold spotted upperparts; black face and throat with white border that extends to the flanks ; black underparts. Nonbreeding has drab back and wings; gray breast; white supercilium, belly.
Similar to: American Golden-Plover. American Golden-Plover wings extend further beyond tail than do wings of Pacific Golden-Plover.
Similar to: Black-bellied Plover. Pacific Golden-Plover is more golden than Black-bellied Plover. Pacific Golden Plover has more white along the flanks.
Image by: 1, 2, 3)  Chris Queen  - Kauai, Hawaii  4) OW Johnson, USFWS   5, 6) Dick Daniels - Kauai, Hawaii  7) Dick - Australia  8) Dick - Homer, Alaska 



Genus Vanellus
Lapwings have long legs and usually assume an upright postision.  Most have wattles (red, yellow, or orange) about the face and most have distinctive markings about the face and breast.

Lapwing, African Wattled also Senegal Wattled Plover Vanellus senegallus Found: Africa
The African Wattled Lapwing has brown back and wings; pale breast and upper belly; black lower belly; black streaked neck; black crown. ; white forehead; yellow face wattles; yellow black tipped bill.
Similar to: Yellow-wattled Lapwing. Ranges do not overlap. Yellow-wattled Lapwing has white belly; African Wattled Lapwing has black lower belly.
Image by: 1)  Bill Hingham  2, 3) Arno Meintjes  4) Dick Daniels - Keekorok Lodge in the Masai Mara, Kenya


Lapwing, Black-headed  Vanellus tectus  Found: central Africa
The Black-headed Lapwing has a black head with white forehead and lower face; black center strip on underparts.
Image by: 1) Noel Reynolds - Uganda  2) Steve Garvie - Kenya 


Lapwing, Blacksmith also Blacksmith Plover Vanellus armatus   Found: Africa
The Blacksmith Lapwing has black and gray (pied) back, wings; white crown, rear neck collar; black head band, face, throat, breast, bill; red eyes.
Image by: 1, 2) Dick Daniels - South Africa     3) Dick - Kenya  4) Cristiano Crolle - 5) Dick - Tanzania


Lapwing, Black-winged also Greater Black-winged Plover Vanellus melanopterus   Found: Africa
The Black-winged Lapwingh has brown back, wings; gray head, neck, upper breast; black lower breast; white forehead, belly; dull pink legs.
Similar to: Andean Lapwing.  Their ranges do not overlap. The Black-winged Lapwing has a black lower breast; the Andean Lawiing has a pale gray breast.
Similar to: Senegal Lapwing. Senegal Lapwing has distinct white forehead and blackish legs; Black-winged Lapwing has difuse white forehead and reddish legs.
Image by: 1, 2) Carol Foil  - Kenya


Lapwing, Brown-chested  Vanellus superciliosus  Found: Africa
The Brown-chested Lapwing has black crown; yellow wattle on forehead, eye-ring; chesnut breast-band; white belly.
Image by: 1) Too Sphexy  2) Marcell Claassen - Rwanda


Lapwing, Crowned also Crowned Plover Vanellus coronatus   Found: Africa
The Crowned Lapwing has brown upperparts, breast; black cap surrounded by white ring, enclosed by black ring; pink bill tipped with pink;  yellow eyes; red legs.
Similar to: Pied Lapwing. Ranges do not overlap.
Image by: 1, 2) Dick Daniels - Johannesburg, South Africa  3, 4) Dick - Tanzania   5, 6) Dick - Nairobi National Park, Kenya



Lapwing, Long-toed also  Long-toed Plover  Vanellus crassirostris  Found: Africa
Similar to: Spur-winged Lapwing.  The Spur-winged Lapwing has a black belly; the Long-toed Lapwing has a white belly.
Image by: 1) Nathan Rupert - San Diego Zoo  2) Dick Daniels - San Diego Zoo  3) Christfried Naumann - Berlin Zoo   4) Lip Kee - Botswana


Lapwing, Northern Vanellus vanellus   Found: North America (vagrant), Europe, Asia, Africa
The Northern Lapwing has a green back; black crest, cap, forehead, fore-neck, breast; white belly.
Similar to: Southern Lapwing. Ranges do not overlap. The Southern Lapwing has a plainer face.
Image by: 1) Bob Hall  2) Gidzy  3) Niklas Nilsson    4) Silvain de Munck - Netherlands   5) sjahanmi - United Arab Emirates  6) Eddie Van 3000  7) Dick Daniels - Scotland 8) Cristiano Crolle - near Novara, Italy



Lapwing, Red-wattled   Vanellus indicus  Found: Asia, Africa
The Red-wattled Lapwing has light brown back, wings; black head, neck, breast; white border of black bib; red wattle in front of each eye; black tipped red bill; yellow legs.
Similar to: Spur-winged Lapwing.  The ranges do not overlap. The Spur-winged Lapwing has a black belly; the Red-wattled Lapwing has a white belly.
Image by: 1) Lip Kee - Sri Lanka  2) Ainus  3) JM Garg 


Lapwing, Senegal  Vanellus lugubris  Found; Africa
The Senegal Lapwing has brown back; white forehead, belly; blackish legs, upper-breast.
Similar to: Black-winged Lapwing. Senegal Lapwing has distinct white forehead and blackish legs; Black-winged Lapwing has difuse white forehead and reddish legs.
Image by: 1) Sumeet Moghe - Kenya  2) Bill Highman - Mozambique  3) Tim Ellis - South Africa


Lapwing, Sociable  Vanellus gregarius  Found; Asia, Africa
The breeding Sociable Lapwing has gray back, breast; dark belly; white undertail; black crown, eye-stripe; white above and below the eye-stripe. Nonbreeding browner back, breast; white belly.
Image by: 1) Balaji Venkatesh - India  2) cks3976 - India  3) Rob LLewellyn - Kazakhstan


Lapwing, Spot-breasted  Vanellus melanocephalus  Found: Ethiopia
The Spot-breasted Lapwing brownish-gray upperparts; black crown; white eye-line, belly; spotted upper-breast.
Image by: 1) Kris Maes


Lapwing, Spur-winged also Spur-winged Plover  Vanellus spinosus  Found: Europe, Africa
The Spur-winged Lapwing has light brown back and wings; black crown, breast, bill, tail, legs; black fore-neck stripe, rest of neck white.
Similar to: Red-wattled Lapwing. The ranges do not overlap. The Spur-winged Lapwing has a black belly; the Red-wattled Lapwing has a white belly.
Image by:  1) Anders Lanzen  2) Sandy Cole - Sylvan Heights   3, 4) Dick Daniels - Sylvan Heights  


Lapwing, White-headed also White-crowned Plover Vanellus albiceps  Found: Africa
The White-headed Lapwing has brown back; black wings; white underparts; gray head with white crown and forehead;yellow face wattles.
Similar to: Masked Lapwing. Ranges do not overlap. Masked Lapwing has black crown; White-headed Lapwing has white crown.
Image by: 1, 2, 3) Dick Daniels - San Diego Zoo  4) Sandy Cole - San Diego Zoo  5) Dick Daniels - National Aviary



Lapwing, White-tailed  Vanellus leucurus  Found: Asia, Africa
The White-tailed Lapwing has a brown back, fore-neck; brown, white, and black wings; white belly.
Image by: 1) Marcel Holyoak - Israel   2) Pete    3) Kishore Bhargava - India  4) Sergey Yeliseev - Armenia




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