Semipalmated PloverCharadrius semipalmatus Bonaparte
Status Common transient, rare in summer. Breeds. It is an uncommon spring migrant, with a few arriving in late April (average 9 May, earliest 19 April; a bird on Sable Island on 11 April 1972 was abnormally early). Most are seen in mid-May and, in diminishing numbers, to the end of the month. It breeds sparingly from southwestern Nova Scotia to Halifax County, on the North Shore from Cumberland to Pictou County, and on Sable Island. It is a familiar fall migrant along all shores, first appearing in early July (average 11 July, earliest 3 July) and abundantly from late July through mid-September. It remains fairly common until early October, with stragglers still present in November and even December. Individuals on Christmas Bird Counts at Brier Island on 20 December 1973, and Halifax West on 18 December 1976, were very late.
Description Length: 16-19 cm. Adults: Back and crown grayish brown; forehead white; line from bill to eye and single band on breast black; underparts white; legs yellowish gray or flesh-coloured; toes webbed at base.
Breeding Nest: On the ground, usually on a pebbly beach, well above high water. The depression is usually lined sparsely with dry eelgrass. Eggs: 4; creamy buff, blotched with dark brown chiefly about the larger end. If the first nest is destroyed, there will be a second one, but the second is more likely to contain three eggs than four. First laying begins in early May and continues until mid-June. A nest found at Cook's Beach, Yarmouth County, on 6 June 1923 contained four eggs about ready to hatch, and three nests found in the same area on 19June 1923 each held four fresh eggs. Between 1922 and 1928, in the general area of Cook's Beach, I discovered 21 nests. It was not unusual to find complete sets of fresh eggs in early June, on the same day that the downy young of other pairs were in evidence. On 24 June 1922, two nests presumed to be second attempts were found; one contained three eggs, and the other held two eggs. Stony beaches flanked by extensive salt or brackish marsh areas are the preferred terrain.
Range Breeds across low arctic and subarctic North America, south along the Pacific coast to southern British Columbia and, in the east, south to Nova Scotia. Winters as far south as Patagonia in South America.
Remarks This plover frequents sandy beaches and mudflats during migration and, although it mixes to some extent with swarms of its many relatives, it shows an inclination to remain aloof, particularly at high tide when it is resting on beaches.
Two colloquial names for this shorebird are "ox-eye" and "ring-neck" It can be readily identified by the single black band (brown in young birds) across an otherwise pure white breast.
The Killdeer, which this bird resembles, is about twice as large and has two black bands across its breast. The Piping Plover is much like the Semipalmated Plover in size and plumage pattern but is much paler.
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