Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis equatarola


Black-bellied Plover
The striking breeding plumage of the species is still retained by this bird in August fall migration, explaining the common name used in North America. Below, the same bird with wings raised, showing the diagnostic black axillaries or "armpits" which these birds retain through all plumages; see discussion further down the page.

Black-bellied Plover

Black-bellied Plover
The bird shown above has begun its molt from breeding to non-breeding plumage.


Black-bellied Plovers
Black-bellied Plovers in flight, mostly through their prebasic molt in August, but some with patches of black feathering on the underparts not yet fully replaced by the solid white of their non-breeding plumage.


Black-bellied Plover
The next three pictures show the Black-bellied Plover in its non-breeding plumage, which is how we generally see the bird in the Lower 48. British birders, who never see the breeding plumage, title this bird the Grey Plover.


Black-bellied Plover


Black-bellied Plover


Black-bellied Plover
A familiar mark distinguishing the Black-bellied Plover from its similar looking Pluvialis cousins the golden-plovers is the black "armpit" or axillary feather tract, seen in the bird above and the two below, and also visible in the pictures of the flying group and the breeding-plumaged bird further up the page.
 

Black-bellied Plover


Black-bellied Plover


Black-bellied Plover
The pervasive sharp white notches on the dark feathers of the upperparts, and the strong streaking of the breast of the bird above indicates a juvenile rather than a winter plumage adult. The same juvenile is shown with a molting adult below.


Black-bellied Plovers