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Scientifically known as Charadrius hiaticula, the ringed plover is a small wading bird from the Charadriidae family. It is native to parts of the northern hemisphere, and it is a migratory bird. During the winter months, the ringed plover flies south to the coast of Africa. Although it bears a strong resemblance to other plovers, such as the semipalmated plover and the little ringed plover, this bird is typically a little larger.
Native to the northeastern parts of Canada and Eurasia, the ringed plover can be found along the coasts and beaches. Nests can be found south towards the northern part of France. Most of these types of birds will migrate south to Africa, stopping in the spring in Iceland. The birds that don't migrate during this season can be found in parts of Britain and France.
A small bird, the common ringed plover does not usually grow much larger than 8 inches (20 cm) from head to tail. Most of these birds have a wingspan of roughly 15 inches (38 cm). They have a plump body with short, stumpy legs.
The top of a ringed plover's head, along with its back and wings, is usually a brownish gray color, and the underside and forehead of the bird is white. Around both the neck and eyes of a ringed plover there is a black ring or band. The legs of these birds are orange, and so is the beak, except for the tip, which is black.
The ringed plover can be found foraging for food in small groups, mostly along the coastlines. Its main diet typically consists of small invertebrates, including worms, insects, and crustaceans. Some experts believe that this bird uses foot trembling as a way to get food. It is believed that this method makes insects and other prey easier to see, either by uncovering them or causing them to move closer to the surface.
Ringed plovers typically become sexually mature at around one year of age. After this, they can be found on sandy or gravel-covered plains during mating season. The male of the species will build a nest and the female will, on average, lay about four brown eggs with small black specks on them. Depending on the area, these eggs will be laid between April and July.
The eggs are small and pear-shaped, measuring roughly 1 by 1.5 inches (26 millimeters by 35 millimeters). Both the male and female ringed plover will sit on the nest to incubate the eggs, and if they believe that the nest is threatened, they will attempt to lure the predator away. By feigning an injury, the parents will walk or fly away from the nest to lure would-be predators away. If they are disturbed before they lay their eggs, many times they will move the nest to a new spot.
Baby ringed plovers hatch a little less than one month after the eggs are laid. Although they are quite self-sufficient, both the male and the female will take care of and protect the hatchlings until about 24 days later. After that, the baby birds are on their own.
I wonder if this bird is in any way related to the piping plover of the Northeast. Where I grew up on Long Island, we had protected areas of the local beaches, reserved as nesting areas for piping plovers.
The eggs look similar to those of the ringed plover.