Lesser Sand Plover

Did you know?

Lesser Sand Plovers sometimes take crabs which they catch in the water and carry them to dry ground where they pound them against the earth to dismember them before swallowing.  

The usual call is a soft and melodious trill, generally uttered in flight.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
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Breeding season: 
May to June
Clutch Size: 
22 days
24 days
Nestling Period: 
30 days
35 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

Also known as Mongolian Plover or Mongolian Dotterel. 

The Lesser Sand Plover is a small to medium plover with a short black bill and large dark eyes. In non breeding plumage they have a pale throat, white stripe through the eye, brown back with a partial breast band and white belly. Legs are greenish. Breeding adults have a black mask and a bright orange chest and neck which in males is usually brighter than in females. 

Gregarious in the non-breeding season they can be seen singly, in small parties, and large flocks (numbering hundreds). When feeding or roosting they may join other waders, often forming mixed flocks with Greater Sand Plovers, although generally seperarting from Greater Sand Plovers when roosting. 

Similar species: 

Lesser Sand Plovers are similar to the Greater Sand Plover but usually smaller, with a generally more upright stance and more compact appearance. They are similar to but slightly larger than the Double-banded Plover.

Where does it live?

Lesser Sand Plovers are a common summer migrant to Australia, widespread from the south east Gulf of Carpentaria, north to the Torres Strait and along the entire east coast. They are uncommon in Tasmania and are rarely found inland.


The habitat of the Lesser Sand Plover is usually coastal,  on the beaches of sheltered bays, in harbours and estuaries with large intertidal sand flats or mudflats. They are occasionally sighted on sandy ocean beaches; coral reefs, wave-cut rock platforms and rocky outcrops and sometimes in short saltmarsh or mangroves. 

Seasonal movements: 

Lesser Sand Plovers are migratory birds which breed in the northern hemisphere (mainly in Siberia) and move south during the northern winter. Some birds over winter in Australia.

What does it do?

Lesser Sand Plovers mainly feed on mudflats, sandy beaches, estuaries, and tidal areas in mangroves foraging for molluscs, worms, crustaceans and insects which are their main diet.  They feed solitarily, or in scattered flocks, often with other waders, using the run-stop-peck manner typical of plovers.


The lesser sand plover does not breed in Australia but nests in the northern hemisphere during the northern summer. Their nest is a shallow scrape in bare sand or shingle, sometimes beside bushes and big stones.

Chicks are usually tended by the male, but sometimes by both parents.

Living with us

Lesser Sand Plovers may be declining in the south east of Australia. Threats on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (the migration route to Australia) include economic and social pressures such as wetland destruction and change, pollution and hunting.

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