Grey Plover

Did you know?

When the Grey Plover feeds it it has a hunched stance and lethargic behaviour giving it a dejected appearance.

Generally silent in Australia; 'kliooee' call in the north.
Facts and Figures
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Breeding season: 
Late May to August.
Clutch Size: 
27 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Grey Plover is a medium-sized, long-legged plover, with a large head and large dark eyes, and a heavy black bill. It is pale grey above with fine mottling, a whitish forehead and eyebrow and a strongly barred white tail. The underparts are whitish grey with diagnostic black wing-pits in flight. When breeding, the plumage is boldly marked with black and white. This species is also known as the Black-bellied Plover or the Grey Sandpiper.

Similar species: 

The Grey Plover may be confused with the Pacific Golden Plover,Pluvialis fulva, but is larger with a heavier bill. In flight, the Grey Plover has black wing-pits. It also has a bold white wing-bar and white rump

Where does it live?

The Grey Plover breeds around the Arctic regions and migrates to the southern hemisphere, being a regular summer migrant to Australia, mostly to the west and south coasts. It is generally sparse but not uncommon in some areas. It is occasionally found inland.


The Grey Plover is almost entirely coastal, being found mainly on marine shores, inlets, estuaries and lagoons with large tidal mudflats or sandflats for feeding, sandy beaches for roosting, and also on rocky coasts.

Seasonal movements: 

Grey Plovers are found in Australia between August and April.

What does it do?

Grey Plovers are mainly diurnal (day-active), feeding on molluscs, insects, crustaceans, polychaete worms, and occasionally vegetation and seeds. They feed with stop-start running, pecking and probing in mud, using their large eyes to locate prey.


Grey Plovers breed in the Northern Hemisphere from late May to August. Eggs are laid in a shallow scrape, lined with stones and vegatation. Both parents share all incubation and feeding duties. The parents' black and white breeding plumage is good camouflage on the tundra, which is dark and boggy and may still have snow cover. They feed mainly on insects when breeding.

Living with us

The Grey Plover has been known to roost on an island artificially created by dredge-spill in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. It is shy and tends to stay far out on the mudflats. Threats on passage (the migration route to Australia) include economic and social pressures such as wetland destruction and change, pollution and hunting.

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