Friday, August 22, 2014

The Semipalmated Plover

 Cayucos Beach at Old Creek - Birding with Cathy from Palm Springs on a beautiful beach day.  Recent high tides had created a shallow lagoon, a habitat returning shore birds could not resist.  Among the Willet, Godwit and Long-billed Curlew was a small flock of Semipalmated Plover.  They are a bit plump, brown overall.  A small black-tipped orange bill and orangish legs distinguishes this sweet little Plover from other small shorebirds.  They do look similar to their relative, the Killdeer.
What fascinates me about this little Plover that nests in Alaska and Northern Canada, and sometimes travels as far south as Tierra del Fuego, are its tiny toes.  After more years of birding than I wish to share, I did not know the definition of "semipalmated."  So what did I do, I Googled it. - "Semipalmated -  having the toes joined part way down with a web"

 The Semipalmated Plover has partial webbing between all of its toes, all six of them.  (Toe image borrowed from the internet.)
 Webbed toes are uncommon among shorebirds, so why does this little Plover have webbing?  It swims.  Adults and chicks swim short distances in shallow water.  Is this the reason the Semipalmated Plover has webbing between its toes?  No one knows for certain, but it makes sense to me.

Next time I am on the beach I am sure I will spend much time looking at Semipalmated Plover toes.


  1. wow a swimming bird ! Learned a new word myself :) Makes senses to me too , their feet sure look like duck feet.

    1. Hi Lina. I found this info so very interesting. I have never paid attention to their feet.