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Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been estimated,  but is not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note

Charadrius alexandrinus, C. dealbatus and C. nivosus (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) were previously lumped as C. alexandrinus following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).

Population justification
The population size has not been estimated following recent taxonomic splits.

Trend justification
The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour Although some populations of this species are sedentary or only disperse short distances (del Hoyo et al. 1996), most inland and northern coastal populations (Hayman et al. 1986) are fully migratory and have distinct separate breeding and wintering ranges (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species occupies its breeding grounds chiefly from March to October (Hayman et al. 1986), dispersing from late-June immediately after the young fledge, with the southward migration peaking in September (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species nests solitarily or in loose semicolonial groups (Johnsgard 1981, Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), usually in densities of 0.5 to 20 pairs per hectare (exceptionally up to 100 pairs per hectare) (Johnsgard 1981), and sometimes in association with other species (Powell and Collier 2000). Outside of the breeding season (Snow and Perrins 1998) the species feeds singly (MacKinnon and Phillipps 2000) or in small flocks of 20-30 individuals (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), and occasionally in larger flocks of up to 260 individuals (Urban et al. 1986), often roosting in large mixed-species flocks (Urban et al. 1986). 
Habitat During all seasons the species is predominantly coastal (Johnsgard 1981, Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and is usually found on sand, silt or dry mud surfaces (del Hoyo et al. 1996), generally avoiding very exposed oceanic coastlines (Snow and Perrins 1998) and rocky or broken ground (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It also shows a preference for sparsely vegetated and sandy areas when breeding (Johnsgard 1981). Typical habitats include sandy, pebbly or muddy shores (Johnsgard 1981, Hayman et al. 1986, Grimmett et al. 1998), dunes (Johnsgard 1981), coastal lagoons (del Hoyo et al. 1996), coastal marshes (China) (MacKinnon and Phillipps 2000), tropical shores of coral limestone (Johnsgard 1981), estuaries and tidal mudflats (Africa) (Urban et al. 1986). It is uncommon on freshwater, even when migrating (Hayman et al. 1986), but frequently occurs on inland habitats not far from the coast such as seasonal watercourses (del Hoyo et al. 1996), open flats near brackish or saline lakes (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), salt-pans (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Grimmett et al. 1998), salty steppes with scattered grasses (Johnsgard 1981), sandy deserts (Johnsgard 1981), pebbly or muddy plains (Johnsgard 1981), gravel pits (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and less frequently sandy riverbanks (Africa) (Johnsgard 1981, Urban et al. 1986, Grimmett et al. 1998), sandy pond margins (Grimmett et al. 1998) and barren reservoir shores (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996). 
Diet Its diet consists mainly of insects and their larvae (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996) (e.g. beetles and flies) (del Hoyo et al. 1996), gammarids (Johnsgard 1981), crabs (Urban et al. 1986), other crustaceans (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and brine shrimps (Johnsgard 1981), bivalve and univalve molluscs (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996), polychaete worms (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996), spiders (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and small pieces of seaweed (Urban et al. 1986). 
Breeding site The nest is a shallow scrape (del Hoyo et al. 1996) positioned near water on bare earth or in sparse vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1996), often on slightly raised ground (Snow and Perrins 1998) and partly sheltered by plants (Snow and Perrins 1998) or near conspicuous objects such as grass clumps or shrubs (Johnsgard 1981). The species nests in semicolonial groups, with nests spaced between 2 and 5 m (western Paleartic) (Snow and Perrins 1

The species is threatened by the disturbance of coastal habitats (e.g. tourists trampling nests and disturbing roosts on beaches) (Lafferty et al. 2006). It is also threatened by the degradation and loss of wetland habitat through environmental pollution (Barter 2006, Kelin and Qiang 2006), land reclamation (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Barter 2006), declining river flows (Barter 2006, Kelin and Qiang 2006) (from water abstraction), unsustainable harvesting of benthic fauna (Barter 2006, Kelin and Qiang 2006), urbanisation (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and a reduction in the amount of sediment being carried into coastal areas by rivers (Barter 2006). The species is susceptible to avian botulism, so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the disease (Blaker 1967).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Barter, M. A. 2006. The Yellow Sea - a vitally important staging region for migratory shorebirds. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 663-667. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Blaker, D. 1967. An outbreak of Botulinus poisoning among waterbirds. Ostrich 38(2): 144-147.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Grimmett, R.; Inskipp, C.; Inskipp, T. 1998. Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Christopher Helm, London.

Hayman, P.; Marchant, J.; Prater, A. J. 1986. Shorebirds. Croom Helm, London.

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.1). Available at: (Accessed: 19 June 2012).

Johnsgard, P. A. 1981. The plovers, sandpipers and snipes of the world. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, U.S.A. and London.

Kelin, C.; Qiang, X. 2006. Conserving migratory shorebirds in the Yellow Sea region. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 319. The Stationery Office, Edinburgh, UK.

MacKinnon, J.; Phillips, K. 2000. A field guide to the birds of China. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Snow, D. W.; Perrins, C. M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic vol. 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L. & Symes, A.

Kasambe, R., Cimiotti, D., Narwade, S. & Karthäuser, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Charadrius alexandrinus. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Charadriidae (Plovers)
Species name author Linnaeus, 1758
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 13,600,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment