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Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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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). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not 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)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
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 pecuarius and C. sanctaehelenae (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) are retained as separate species contra Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993) who include sanctaehelenae as a subspecies of C. pecuarius.

Trend justification
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes.

Behaviour This species is predominantly sedentary, but may make local movements related to seasonal rainfall (with birds leaving during rains and flooding) (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), the patterns of which are poorly understood (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Whilst breeding the species is usually found in pairs (Urban et al. 1986) or nesting in loose neighbourhood groups with nests 20 m apart (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). It is gregarious during the non-breeding season however, usually occurring in small flocks of up to 20 individuals, but sometimes in larger groups (Urban et al. 1986) (during local migratory movements flocks of 100-300 have been reported) (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). It is diurnal but may feed during moonlit nights (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). Habitat This species primarily inhabits flat, open (del Hoyo et al. 1996), dry ground with very short grass or dried mud, often near the margins of lakes, reservoirs and rivers, or on small permanent and temporary pools, flood plains, dry sandy riverbeds (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and marshes (Owino 2002). It is also found along the coast on dry salt-flats, tidal mudflats (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), lagoons, salt-marshes (del Hoyo et al. 1996), estuaries, sandy beaches with kelp wrack (Hockey et al. 2005), and offshore islands (Johnsgard 1981), although it generally avoids rocky coasts (Urban et al. 1986). The species less often inhabits airfields, golf courses, overgrazed pastures and ploughed fields (Hockey et al. 2005). Diet This species is carnivorous, its diet consisting of small terrestrial and marine invertebrates such as beetles, flies, bugs, grasshoppers (up to 40mm long) (Hockey et al. 2005), the larvae of Lepidoptera, spiders, molluscs (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), polycheate worms and crustaceans (Hockey et al. 2005). Breeding site The nest of this species is a shallow scrape in coarse sand or dry mud, often in an exposed positions (del Hoyo et al. 1996) such as on sand ridges or sand piles, sandy-soil patches in open grassland, or on areas of dried mud devoid of vegetation (Johnsgard 1981). Nests are usually within 50-100 m of water, although they may be several km away (Urban et al. 1986), and breeding pairs may re-use old scrape nests (Urban et al. 1986, Hockey et al. 2005) or utilise natural depressions (Hockey et al. 2005).

This species is potentially threatened by habitat loss through wetland destruction and degradation (Ntiamboa-Baidu 1991, Wearne and Underhill 2005). Walvis Bay in Namibia (a key wetland site in southern Africa) is being degraded through changes in the flood regime due to road building, wetland reclamation for suburb and port development, and disturbance from tourism (Wearne and Underhill 2005); and Ghana wetlands are under threat from coastal erosion and proposed developments involving drainage and land reclamation (Ntiamboa-Baidu 1991). The proportion of the species that migrates via the east Atlantic flyway is susceptible to avian malaria and is therefore potentially threatened by future outbreaks (Mendes et al. 2005). The species is also susceptible to avian botulism, so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the disease (Blaker 1967).

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

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.

Hockey, P. A. R.; Dean, W. R. J.; Ryan, P. G. 2005. Roberts birds of southern Africa. Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa.

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

Mendes, L.; Piersma, T.; Lecoq, M.; Spaans, B.; Ricklefs, E. 2005. Disease-limited distributions? Contrasts in the prevalence of avian malaria in shorebird species using marine and freshwater habitats. Oikos 109: 396-404.

Ntiamoa-Baidu, Y. 1991. Seasonal changes in the importance of coastal wetlands in Ghana for wading birds. Biological Conservation 57: 139-158.

Owino, A. 2002. Shoreline distribution patterns of Kittlitz's Plover' Charadrius pecuarius Temmick, at Lake Makuru, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology 40: 396-398.

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

Wearne, K.; Underhill, L. G. 2005. Walvis Bay, Namibia: a key wetland for waders and other coastal birds in southern Africa. Wader Study Group Bulletin 107: 24-30.

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
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Charadrius pecuarius. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

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

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Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Charadriidae (Plovers)
Species name author Temminck, 1823
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 16,300,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change