Birds of the World



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Totipalmate Swm



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Charadriiformes / Charadrii - Shorebirds
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Shorebirds, Charadriiformes
Pterocli - Sandgrouse
Charadrii - Shorebirds
Families: Seedsnipe, Plains-wanderer, Thick-knees, Plovers and Lapwings, Oystercatchers,
    IbisbillStilts and Avocets, Painted Snipe, Jacanas, Magellanic Plover, Sheathbills,
    Sandpipers, Phalaropes
Lari - Gulls, Terns, Skimmers
Families: Crab Plovers, Pratiincoles and Coursers, Jaegers and Skuas, Gulls, Terns, Skimmers
Alcae - Auks
Families: Auks
Pacific Golden-Plover, Southern Lapwing, Blackish Oystercatcher,
American Black Oystercatcher
, Silver Gull, Western Gull, Heermann's Gull, Lava Gull, Swallow-tailed Gull, Kelp Gull, Dolphin Gull, South American Tern
Sanderling, Willet, Piping and Semipalmated Plovers,
Masked, Southern, Red-wattled, and Northern Lapwings
, White-tailed Plover,
Eurasian, Blackish, and American Black Oystercatchers, Pied Stilt,
Northern and Wattled Jacanas, Snowy SheathbillWillet, Sanderling, Western Sandpiper,
Red Phalarope, Alaskan shorebirds, Laughing Gull, Forster's Tern, Black Skimmer,
South Polar Skua
, Bonaparte's Gull, Fairy Tern, Black Skimmer,
Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Klittliz's Murrelet, Black Guillemot, and Tufted Puffin
  "Charadrii" - "Shorebirds"
Traditionally, the Charadriiformes have been characterized as containing three major groups beyond the sandgrouse; shorebirds and their relatives, gulls and terns, and alcids (conveniently ignoring complications added by other groups that do not occur in North America and by best taxonomic practice).
   As we see them, our shorebirds have long, pointed-wings and are usually long-legged with short tails and long necks and are fast fliers. They include plovers, turnstones, sandpipers and their allies, avocets and stilts, phalaropes, and a diversity of other species.
   Their anterior toes are usually unwebbed (or "semipalmate"). The first toe (hallux) is small and elevated (and is often missing or reduced). Supraorbital glands (involved in osmoregulation) are absent or small. Adult downs are confined to feather tracts. They have 12-28 tail feathers. Young are nidifugous.
   Charadrii are walkers, waders, or swimmers as well as fast and powerful fliers. Most breed in higher latitudes and winter farther south - often crossing the Equator. Thus, many make extensive seasonal migratory flights (the Sanderling, Calidris alba, our common "surfbird," regularly flies from their breeding grounds on islands of the Arctic Ocean to winter areas in Peru - with some remaining on our shores  year round). Charadrii often migrate in large flocks at high altitudes (above 15-20K feet,) with speeds well above 35-40 knots (often to 45 knots). They may migrate day or night. In contrast, smaller passerine birds fly lower and slower and mostly by night...
   Charadrii use their bills for probing in soft mud or sand. In some species, the tips of their bill may be opened to grasp prey. Most sandpipers are adapted for wading by having long legs; long fore-toes, a short hallux, and bare or partially bare legs.
   Food includes invertebrates taken from or near the surface, often in shallow water. Insects are taken during the breeding season and some species eat berries. In winter, much of the food is obtained at night - they may time their feeding more by the tides than the sun. They may use their feet to stir water or pat the sand to induce prey to expose itself. They can also be seen listening for movement below the surface.
   Most nests are on the ground.
   During the middle of the 19th century, shorebird populations were decimated by market hunters who slaughtered shorebirds by the thousands. By 1880, many species were bordering on extinction. After they were protected from hunting, most populations have made a good recovery but few species have reached their previous numbers. Obviously habitat destruction and modifications in breeding areas have had major impacts.
   In the following review of Charadriids, I will follow Sibley and Ahlquist's (1990) order but will retain family status for taxa so classed by the AOU.
Piping and Semipalmated Plovers.
Charadrius melodus
and C. semipalmatus.
North Beach
  Family Thinocoridae - Seedsnipe
Wiki     ToL    EoL
  4 species placed in 2 genera (Thinocorus, Attagis). South America (Andes from Ecuador to southern Chile and Argentina, including Tierra del Fuego). The family is closely related to the Plains-wanderer and to the Painted Snipe and jacanas.
   Seedsnipe are terrestrial shorebirds. The larger species are like ptarmigans - the smaller species are more like larks. They have rounded bodies and small bills. The nares are impervious with operculate, holorhinal nostrils (a thin flap of skin keeps dust out of the nasal passages). They have long pointed wings like a shorebird. The tail is short. Legs are short but their toes are long and they have a hallux. They have aegithognathous palates, and the pelvic muscles, ABXY+.  There is a crop,  a gizzard, and they have long caeca. Apteria (unfeathered areas) have thick black down. There are 12 or 14 tail feathers.
   In Attagis, the sexes are similar. In the smaller Thinocorus, there is sexual dichromatism. All are well camouflaged. They are terrestrial. Attagis species walk in a crouched manner. Thinocorus males spend much of their time singing from a high point and performing aerial displays. Their songs are whistles (Attagis) or a rapid cooing (Thinocorus).
   They are gregarious upland birds (the Least Seedsnipe, Thinocorus rumicivorus, lives in more arid terrain). They feed on vegetable materials - seeds and berries (adding invertebrates when breeding). More southern populations migrate north in winter, some move to lower altitudes in winter.
   Nests are a shallow scrape on the ground. They lay 2-3 (4) spotted eggs which are incubated by the female. Chicks are precocial. Both parents care for them until they fledge.
  Family Pedionomidae - Plains-wanderer
Wiki     ToL    EoL
  1 species, 1 genus (Pedionomus torquatus). Interior eastern Australia. Related more closely to seedsnipe and  more distantly to jacanas.
   This is a relatively small quail-like ground bird. Their plumage is cryptic - the male is light above with white underparts and black crescents. Females are larger and more colorful (the female has a rust-colored breast band and black collar with white blotches). Sexual roles are reversed - the female courts and the male raises the young.
   They have yellow eyes and legs and feet. The Plains-wanderer has a slender bill, short tail, and long neck and legs. Their coverts are diastaxic, the palate is schizognathous. Tarsi are scutellate and they have a hallux.
   Their original habitat was open expanses of native grassland and saltbush but today they are often found in sheep paddocks where they are active at night.
   They are secretive, avoiding detection by remaining motionless. They run to escape danger and are very reluctant to fly. Birds are solitary when not breeding. They inhabit . They feed on small insects and other invertebrates plus a variety of seeds.
   The female (only?) makes a moaning sound during the breeding season.
   The female displays to the male. Their nest is a scrape at the base of a bush or clump of grass. They lay 2-4 pyriform eggs. The male incubates for 23 days and then cares for the young. Chicks are downy and light below and darker above with blackish spots, They are polyandrous with the male providing parental care. They may have 2 broods.
  Family Burnhinidae - Thick-knees or Stone-Curlews
Wiki     ToL    EoL
  9 species placed in 1 (2) genera (Burhinus, Esacus). Tropical waders scattered in the Old World and the Neotropics  (mostly in the southern hemisphere). One species ranges north into eastern Mexico.
   They are chunky, medium-sized birds - like large plovers - and have swollen leg joints. Their bills are heavy (yellow or black) and they have large yellow eyes and cryptic plumage. The nares are pervious. They have 16 cervical vertebrae, the middle toenail is dilated, sometimes notched, and they have no hallux. Supraorbital (salt) glands are present.
   They are nocturnal or crepuscular (more northern species are more active in the day). They walk slowly, watching for prey. They feed on insects and small vertebrates (including bird's eggs). They usually walk to escape danger. When they fly, they remain low and trail their feet.
   They have loud wailing songs, usually heard after dark. Their calls are reminiscent of true curlews. They are usually found in open, sandy, or rocky habitats - including semi-desert. Two species live along lakes and streams. The Beach Stone Curlew, Esacus magnirostris, is found on beaches and in mangroves. Most are sedentary but the Eurasian Stone Curlew, Burhinus oedicnemus, is migratory in the more northern regions.
   Pairs establish territories and lay ~2 eggs in a bare scrape. Both parents incubate for 24-27 days (one indubating, one standing guard). Young are precocial and leave the nest within a day of hatching. Parents continue to feed them for a few days. They fledge at 36-42 days.
  Family Charadriidae - Lapwings , Plovers and the Dotterel
Wiki      Wiki     Wiki     ToL     EoL
  67 (66) species, 11 (10) genera. Worldwide (except Antarctica). The family can be divided into 2 subfamilies;
   Subfamily Vanellinae - lapwings (Erythrogonys, Vanellus) (Wiki)
   Subfamily Charadriinae - ringed and golden plovers (Pluvialis, Charadrius, Thinornis, Elseyornis, Peltohyas,, Anarhynchus, Phegornis,
) (Wiki).

   Plovers are small to medium-sized shorebirds with compact bodies (in contrast to our largest plovers, lapwings are strikingly larger). Sexes are similar. They are plump with a rounded head and thick neck. Their large eyes have a high proportion of rods to provide excellent vision in low light. In most, the bill is short (shorter than the tarsus) and its tip is inflated. [The Wry-bill, Anarhynchus frontalis, has a bill bent to the right in the middle.] Wings are long and pointed in plovers - they are more rounded in lapwings. The wings are spurred in most lapwings. Lawings have pied plumage and may have long crests or wattles. Plovers are usually sexually dichromatic with males usually being the brighter sex. Most have unstreaked plumage, often with bold bars on the breast and are cryptically colored. They have medium to long legs. The hallux is small or absent. A few are semipalmate.
   Most species have a complete post-nuptial molt and some have a partial molt before the breeding season, giving rise to a brighter nuptial plumage. Many species have a distinct juvenile plumage.
   Plovers live in open habitat, ranging from tundra, steppes, playas, shorelines, and grasslands to semi-arid deserts and from sea level to above treeline. Most live near water but some may breed in fields or other open areas. Winter habitats may differ from those preferred for breeding.
   Plovers appear to find most of their food by sight - they run a few steps, pause, then run again - pecking when they find food items. They feed on invertebrates and small vertebrates and may also eat plant seeds or leaves. They regurgitate pellets of undigested material. With their relatively large eyes and keen vision, some species forage at night - others during the day - often in tune with tides in marine habitats.
   Plovers breed when food resources are most abundant (northern latitudes give them long days and plentiful insect prey). Most are territorial and monogamous (a few may have extended pair bonds).  Although polygyny is rare, serial polyandry is known in a number of species. The nest is often a sinple scrape or mound of litter usually in a dry spot well above high tide or water level. Females lay 2-5 eggs (usually 4 - they fit best together). In most species, both sexes incubate and care for the young. Incubation lasts 21-30 days. Chicks are precocial and are brooded for a few days and guarded for up to a month before becoming independent. Most species use a distraction display (the "broken-wing" display is common) when people or predators approach. Even understanding this ruse, it is really difficult to find a nest.
Masked Lapwing
Southern Lapwing
Northern Lapwing
Masked Lapwing, Vanellus miles.
Esplanade, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
                                 Wiki      ToL      EoL
Southern Lapwing, Vanellus chilensis.
The Cliffs, Patagonia, Chile.
                                  Wiki      ToL      EoL
Northern Lapwing, Vanellus vanellus.
Polder of the Zaanse-Schans, Netherlands.
                         Wiki      ToL      EoL
Red-wattled Lapwing
Red-wattled Lapwing Red-wattled Lapwing, Vanellus indicus.
Pivot Fields Sod Farm, Dubai UAE.
Southern Asia, Middle East.
Photo by Ed Konrad
                                     Wiki      ToL      EoL
White-tailed Plover, Vanellus leucurus.
Pivot Fields Sod Farm, Dubai UAE.
Another Middfle East lapwing.
Photo by Ed Konrad
Wiki      ToL      EoL
White-tailed Plover White-tailed Plover
    Banner - Black-bellied Plovers. North Beach.