Guide to Boreal Birds
Like other plovers, the Semipalmated forages in short bursts-a quick run followed by a stop-during which it scans the sand or mud in front of it for any sign of life before running on. It does not probe like its usual associates, the longer-billed sandpipers. Taking most of their food right from the surface, Semipalmated Plovers prey mainly on small crustaceans and mollusks.
6-8" (15-20 cm). A brown-backed plover with white underparts and 1 black breast band. Bill stubby, yellow-orange, with dark tip. Immature has all-black bill and brownish breast band. Piping Plover similar but much paler above. Larger Killdeer has 2 black breast bands.
A plaintive 2-note whistle, tu-wee. Also a soft, rather musical rattle.
4 buff eggs, spotted with dark brown and black, placed in a shallow depression sparsely lined with shell fragments, pebbles, and bits of vegetation on the tundra.
Breeds on sandy or mossy tundra; during migration found on beaches, mudflats, shallow pools in salt marshes, and lakeshores.
Breeds from Alaska east to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Winters regularly from California and Carolinas south and along Gulf Coast; rarely farther north.