Plover, a name given to several kinds of shore birds. The true plovers include the killdeer, and are related to the lapwings and turnstones. Plovers are widely distributed around the world, most kinds breeding in cold northern regions and wintering in warmer climates.

True plovers are from 6 to 13 inches (15 to 33 cm) long, with plump bodies and moderately long legs and wings. Their short bills are usually wider near the tip. Most plovers are dark above and paler below, with black and white markings on head and neck. They are found on prairies, mud flats, and beaches. They eat insects, worms, and small shellfish. Most kinds of female plovers lay four buff-colored, brown-splotched eggs in nests scooped out of the ground.

The golden plovers are from 10 to 11 inches (25 to 28 cm) long. In the breeding season, they have black underparts and golden spots on their dark-gray backs. In winter they are grayish brown above and lighter brown below. The American golden plover breeds in the arctic regions from eastern Siberia to Baffin Island. It winters in Pacific islands and in Argentina.

Typical of ringed, or ring-neck, plovers are the European ringed plover and the closely related semipalmated plover of North America. Each has a black band across its white breast, and a white band across the dark back of its neck. The European bird breeds in northern Europe and winters in southern Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa. The semipalmated plover migrates from arctic breeding grounds along the Atlantic Coast to the Gulf of Mexico. The piping plover is a ringed plover found on beaches. It breeds northward from Virginia and winters in Mexico and the West Indies. Due to loss of habitat, it is an endangered species.

The semipalmated ploverThe semipalmated plover migrates to the Gulf of Mexico

Several birds called plovers belong to families other than that of the true plovers. The upland plover, or upland sandpiper, is related to the woodcocks and curlews. It is limited to the Americas. The crab plover is a long-billed, black-and-white wading bird of Asia and Africa, about 16 inches (41 cm) long. It eats crabs and other shellfish.

True plovers belong to the family Charadriidae. The American golden plover is Pluvialis dominica; European ringed plover, Charadrius hiaticula; semipalmated, C. semipalmatus; piping, C. melodus. The upland plover is Bartramia longicauda of the family Scolopacidae. The crab plover, Dramas ardeola, makes up the family Dromadidae.