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Pacific Golden Plover
Pluvialis fulva

Asian/Asiatic/Eastern Golden Plover,
Rapang Kerinyut (Malay)

standing in water in partial breeding plumagePacific Golden Plovers are among the most numerous of waders that can be seen in Sungei Buloh Nature Park during the migration season. They moult mainly at their winter roost and so may arrive in Singapore with traces of their beautiful breeding plumage, and don their breeding colours just before they leave.

Pacific Golden Plovers eat mainly bivalves and other molluscs on their wintering grounds; as well as worms, crustaceans, spiders. During breeding season; berries are important, with snacks of seeds and leaves.

Pacific Golden Plovers find their food mainly by sight (as opposed to probing in the ground with their bills). They forage in a peck-and-run method; running quickly in an upright position, pausing to peck, then running again. Their preferred foraging ground is intertidal mudflats. Gregarious birds, Pacific Golden Plovers migrate, feed and roost in large flocks: usually up to 50, but more at good feeding sites.
plover on its nest
Photo from
John Palmer
Breeding: Pacific Golden Plovers breed in Siberian tundra and in West Alaska in June-July. Males usually return to the same nest site, even to the same spot. They form monogamous pairs. Relying on their excellent camouflage to avoid predators, they simply nest on the ground.
Mangrove and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
Main features: Large (23-26cm); slender bill (2cm); white eyebrow; golden-brown upperparts; feet grey; bill black.

Adult:
Summer/breeding: upperparts become brighter gold; mottled black and gold; face and rest of underparts black with white band from forehead over brow down sides of the breast to flanks. Winter/non-breeding: grey-brown with yellow speckles; belly white.

Juvenile:
As in winter plumage but paler; belly indistinct dark bars.

Call: A loud tu-it or keruit or kyew-eek.

In flight:
Uniformly dark upperparts (no white parts); narrow white wing bar. Underwing brownish-grey.

Similar birds: Other Golden Plovers; but these are not encountered in Singapore and thus the confusion is more likely at their breeding site.

Breeding

Non-breeding

Juvenile
Photos from
Rosair and Cottridge
Status in Singapore: Very common non-breeding winter visitor, throughout the island and North and South offshore islands.

World distribution: Worldwide.

Classification: Family Charadriidae, which includes stilts and lapwings. World 89 species, Singapore 12 species. The Pacific Golden Plover was recently separated from the Lesser/American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) that is found in the Americas. Although the two share breeding grounds, they do not interbreed. From the Order Charadiiformes.
They prefer well-vegetated well-drained tundra, often on hillsides, ridges or raised polygons. The nest is just a shallow scrape lined with lichens. 4 eggs are laid, incubated by both parents (26 days). Soon after hatching, the chicks and parents move off to moist shrubby or grassy tundra. When threatened, the parent distracts the predator from the nest or chicks by pretending to have a broken wing. Both parents raise the young, but if the brood is late, only by the male.

Migration: Phenomenal long-distance travellers, after breeding in the Arctic, these plovers migrate to spend winter almost half way around the world (5,000-13,000km away one-way). Some winter on tiny islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, a feat which requires precise navigation. Alaskan breeders winter in Hawaii, Fiji, South Pacific Islands, all the way to New Zealand. Siberian breeders migrate to Africa, India, Indochina, Southeast Asia all the way to Australia. Most winter on coastal mudflats, beaches, reefs. But they may also be found inland on short grasslands (such as airfields) or around freshwater pools, lakes, rivers, marshes, rice fields.

Status and threats: Like other waders, Pacific Golden Plovers are threatened by habitat destruction and water pollution. They are shy and easily scared off feeding sites by human disturbance. In the past, they were hunted in India.


REFERENCES
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Nature's Niche
  • Morten Strange, "A Photographic Guide to Birds of Malaysia and Singapore: including Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Borneo", Periplus, 2000 (p. 104: description, voice, habits, distribution, status, photo).
  • David R Wells, "The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 1 (Non-Passarines)", Academic Press, 1999 (p. 275-276: identification, distribution map, habits, habitat, migration, conservation).
  • Lim Kim Seng, "Pocket Checklist of the Birds of the Republic of Singapore", Nature Society (Singapore), 1999 (Abundance, status, Chinese and Malay names).
  • Lim Kim Seng and Dana Gardner, "Birds: An Illustrated Field Guide to the Birds of Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing Ltd., 1997 (p.63: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, diagrams, number of species).
  • G W H Davidson and Chew Yen Fook, "A Photographic Guide to Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore", New Holland Publishers Ltd., 1995 (p. 33: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, photo).
  • Morten Strange and Allen Jeyarajasingam, "Birds: A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing, 1993 (p. 116: description, distribution, habits, habitat, photo).
  • Christopher Hails, "Birds of Singapore" illustrated by Frank Jarvis, Times Editions, 1987 reprinted 1995 (p. 69: habits, habitat, description, status in Singapore, and lovely drawings of the birds).
  • Peter Hayman (et. al), "Shorebirds: An Identification Guide to the Waders of the World", Christopher Helm, 1986 (p. 278-9: identification, distribution, habits, movements, diagrams)
  • David Rosair and David Cottridge, "Photographic Guide to the Shorebirds of the World", Facts on File, 1995 (p. 66: photos of adults-breeding and non-breeding, and juvenile).
  • Jonathan Elphick (ed.), "Collin Atlas of Bird Migration: Tracing the Great Journeys of the World's Birds", Harper Collins, 1995 (p.129: migration route and distance).
  • John Palmer (ed.), "Exploring the Secrets of Nature", Reader's Digest, 1994 (p. 223: photo of Golden Plover nesting).
  • "Handbook of the Birds of the World: Vol 3: Hoatzin to Auks", Lynx Edicions, 1996 (p. 423: identification, distribution map, habits, habitat, migration, conservation).
 
By Ria Tan, 2001