My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Semipalmated Plover, Charadrius semipalmatus

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Semipalmated Plover, Charadrius semipalmatus

The Semipalmated Plover is a small plover.

This species weighs 22–63 g (0.78–2.2 oz) and measures 14–20 cm (5.5–7.9 in) in length and 35–56 cm (14–22 in) across the wings. Adults have a grey-brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with one black neckband. They have a brown cap, a white forehead, a black mask around the eyes and a short orange and black bill.

Their breeding habitat is open ground on beaches or flats across northern Canada and Alaska. They nest on the ground in an open area with little or no plant growth.

They are migratory and winter in coastal areas of the southern United States, the Caribbean and much of South America.

These birds forage for food on beaches, tidal flats and fields, usually by sight. They eat insects, crustaceans and worms.

This bird very closely resembles the Killdeer but is much smaller but has only one black band on their chest. The bill of the killdeer is totally black, where as the bill of the Semipalmated Plover is orange near their face, and only the tip is black. The term “semipalmated” refers to its partly webbed feet. Like the Killdeer, and since its nest is on the ground, it uses a “broken-wing” display to lure intruders away from the nest.

On to my photos, these were all shot on the shores of Thunder Bay, an arm of Lake Huron, near Alpena, Michigan:

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

This is number 116 in my photo life list, only 234 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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9 responses

  1. in the plant world “Palmate” means like a hand with the fingers spalyed. I wonder what semi palmate could have to do with a bird. Feet maybe?

    July 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    • Umm, The term “semipalmated” refers to its partly webbed feet.

      July 25, 2013 at 1:05 pm

  2. Great shots! Our snowy plovers are endangered and protected around here. I’ve even seen the volunteers set up a sort of fencing arrangement around their nests and then watch over them when the chicks are vulnerable.

    July 25, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    • Thanks, the same thing happens around here for our endangered piping plovers.

      July 25, 2013 at 1:16 pm

  3. Nice spots, have you been up to the Sleeping Bear area to see the Piping Plovers?

    July 25, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    • Thanks, I’ve been to Sleeping Bear Dunes many times, but not lately. And, to my knowledge, I haven’t seen a piping plover yet. But, I’ve only been concerned with exact IDs lately, so one of the many plover-like birds I’ve seen over the years may have been a piping plover. I’ve been in the right places at the right times.

      July 25, 2013 at 1:22 pm

  4. Yeah, I would have confused this one with a killdeer for sure (without binoculars, mind.) Do you know if they do the same thing as the golden plover– nesting in same place each year? (The ones in Hawaii summer in Alaska, winter in Hawaii–hey, that’s not a bad life!!!!) Thx for sharing!

    July 26, 2013 at 10:13 am

    • It may not be a bad life, if you survive the flight! That’s a lot of flapping. I assume that these birds nest in the same place each year, almost all birds do.

      July 26, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      • That’s some kind of GPS, man! 😉

        July 26, 2013 at 4:44 pm