Sunday, November 15, 2009

Black-Bellied Plover

The ocean is filled with food for many kinds of birds.

The most dedicated birders will get up before dawn to see birds feeding at low tide.  I still value sleep more than birding.  But I lucked out yesterday, because the birds were feeding at the more reasonable time of 1 PM.  I got to see a Black-Bellied Plover.

These guys have a very diverse diet.  Although they eat the typical crustaceans and mollusks, they also eat insects and berries.

I saw only one Black-Bellied Plover yesterday, but he let me take many pictures.  He was very cautious, looking up every few seconds.  But he never retreated, and let me get within four feet.

How is this for camouflage?

The Black-Bellied Plovers are different from the American Golden-Plovers, which don't have any golden color in their non-breeding plumage.  Further, the Pacific Golden-Plovers has what looks like flecks of gold.

This was my favorite picture because his posture reminds me of a ballet dancer.

The plover is a medium-sized bird.  Here in the background, you can see a sandpiper, which is a much smaller bird, perhaps about the size of your palm.

It's hard to imagine, but the Black-Bellied Plover's breeding plumage is all black in front.  The pictures below were taken last August.  They're most likely Black-Bellied Plovers in an intermediate stage between breeding and winter plumage, but they could be American Golden-Plovers.  It's incredibly hard to tell the type of plover because the standard markers are obscured.  The picture is close enough to give you an idea of the stark contrast between breeding and non-breeding plumage, though, especially for the plover on the left.

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