American Golden Plover


This bird is an extremely rare visitor to the UK each year.

From spring, look out for the beautiful, speckled gold-and-black breeding plumage of the American Golden plover.
It can be found in its upland moorland breeding grounds from May to September, moving to lowland farmland and fields in winter.
It nests on open ground among heather and grass, and the female lays about 4 eggs.
Both parents care for the chicks.”

‘Golden plover’ Scientific name: Pluvialis apricaria The Wildlife Trusts. [ii]

It is a first class navigator:

American Golden Plover
‘American Golden Plover’ – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [iv]

The American Golden-Plover has a long migration route.
In the fall, many fly offshore from the East Coast and don’t land until they reach South America.
In spring, most pass through the middle of North America to reach the Arctic.
With so much distance to cover, golden-plovers fly fast—studies using geolocators found the birds averaged 30+ mph and sometimes achieved ground speeds of over 80 mph during their long over-ocean flights.
Like many shorebirds, adult American Golden-Plovers leave the Arctic in early summer, leaving their young behind.
The juveniles (only a few months old) set off on migration in late summer or fall—finding their way to South America on their own.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, colloquial names for the American Golden-Plover included bullhead, field plover, greenback, muddy-belly, and prairie pigeon.
The oldest American Golden-Plover was at least 13 years old when it was recaptured and released during a banding operation in Alaska.”

‘American Golden-Plover’ All About Birds, The Cornell Lab [i]
American Golden Plover paddling in shallow water.
American Golden Plover paddling in shallow water.

The American golden plover eats flying insects, worms, spiders, berries, and seeds.
It probes with its bill for food and also chases its prey…
The American golden plover migrates in a circle!
In the late summer, the American golden plover migrates up to 2,500 miles from the Arctic to South America, flying over the Atlantic Ocean.
In the spring, it returns to the Arctic, but instead of flying back over the Atlantic, it flies over the Great Plains!”

‘American Golden Plover – Pluvialis dominica’ Wildlife Journal Junior [iii]

Designed, or trial and error?
I would suggest that the American Golden Plover has been given the navigational skills by God the great Designer.

References:
[i] ‘American Golden-Plover’ All About Birds, The Cornell Lab
[ii] ‘Golden plover’ Scientific name: Pluvialis apricaria The Wildlife Trusts.
[iii] ‘American Golden Plover – Pluvialis dominica’ Wildlife Journal Junior
[iv] ‘American Golden Plover’ – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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