Piping Plover – Accepted

1. 14–24 Apr 1971


Goleta SBA



date span per Garrett & Dunn (1981) contra Lehman (1994) and Cole et al. (2006)

and 16 Dec 1971–22 Apr 1972





ph., AB 26:525

and 16 Dec 1972–21 Jan 1973





Roberson (1980); date span per Garrett & Dunn (1981) contra Lehman (1994) and Cole et al. (2006)

and 16 Dec 1973–03 Mar 1974






2. 18 Nov 1973–16 Apr 1974


Malibu LA



Fig. 114, ph., Luther et al. (1979)

3. 01 Oct–15 Dec 1980


Morro Bay SLO





Piping Plover – Not accepted, identification not established

09 Sep 1977


Año Nuevo State Reserve SM




09 Oct 1981


Moss Landing MTY




05 Aug 1989


Abbotts Lagoon MRN





Piping Plover – Not submitted

12 Oct 1974


Malibu LA



Garrett & Dunn (1981), see table entry 2








Figure 114. In response to plummeting populations, the Piping Plover was federally listed as a threatened species in 1985. Three Piping Plovers were detected in California before the time of listing and one has been found since then (see Appendix H). The state’s second record involves this bird, photographed in January 1974 at Malibu Lagoon, Los Angeles County (1978-044; Herbert Clarke).







Piping Plover

PIPING PLOVER Charadrius melodus Ord, 1824

Accepted: 3 (50%)

Treated in Appendix H: yes

Not accepted: 3

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 1

Color image: none

This small plover nests on the Great Plains from Alberta, Montana, and south-central Canada to southeastern Colorado and Nebraska, locally in the Great Lakes region, and on the Atlantic coast from South Carolina north to the Atlantic Provinces. Atlantic breeders tend to be duller than those from inland populations, and subspecies C. m. melodus (Atlantic coast) and C. m. circumcinctus (inland) have been intermittently recognized on morphological grounds. Most authorities currently consider the species monotypic, although a recent study suggests a potential genetic basis for polytypy (Haig and Elliot-Smith 2004). The species winters from coastal North Carolina south along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts to the Yucatan Peninsula, and in the West Indies. Howell and Webb (1995) considered it to be rare and irregular on Mexico’s Pacific coast based on winter records from Sonora and Nayarit. Russell and Monson (1998) included no Sonora records since 1982, but six birds were reported in the northwestern part of that state between 1989 and 2004 (fide S. Ganley, Hinojosa-Huerta et al. 2007).

Extralimital records are scattered across the United States, and the species has also been recorded in southern British Columbia (Gehlen 2000), Belize, and southwestern Ecuador. Populations of this plover have suffered widespread declines, especially in the Great Lakes region, and in 1985 the Great Lakes population was placed on the federal (United States) list of endangered species. The species as a whole was federally listed as threatened at the same time.

California’s first Piping Plover—a male initially found on a beach in Goleta, Santa Barbara County, 14–18 April 1971—returned for three subsequent winters and each spring molted into alternate plumage (see Roberson 1980). The second record also involves a wintering bird (Figure 114). The third, involving an individual last seen on 15 December 1980, is harder to categorize. See also Appendix H. The species’ global scarcity must contribute to California’s shortage of records. Although some birds could be passed off as Snowy Plovers, biologists have closely monitored the state’s Snowy populations for many years, greatly reducing the odds that numbers of Pipings have simply been overlooked.


[KITTLITZ’S PLOVER Charadrius pecuarius Temminck, 1823 – see hypothetical section]