Field Guide

Discover the diverse species of Oklahoma.

Piping Plover

This stocky shorebird is 5 1/2 inches long, with a wingspan of 19 inches. Plumage characteristics include a sand-colored back, a white underside, and orange legs. Adults develop a black forehead, black breast band, and an orange bill with a black tip during the breeding season.
Many reservoirs throughout the state have harbored piping plovers for brief periods and single birds are usually documented at stopover sites. As with other plovers, piping plovers often select mudflats and sandbars to forage for invertebrates. The birds seen in Oklahoma are all part of the Northern Great Plains population and typically occur in the state from March to May, and July to September.
Life Cycle: 
This species typically breeds along shorelines of rivers and lakes from Kansas to Canada, though one nesting record exists in the Oklahoma Panhandle. It overwinters along the Gulf Coast.
6-7 inches in length.
Conservation Status: 
Piping plovers have declined as a result of habitat loss due to reservoir construction and channelization projects along rivers and streams. Other threats include human disturbance of nesting areas on beaches, encroachment of vegetation into nesting habitat, predation, and increased recreational use of nesting and wintering habitats. The Northern Great Plains population of piping plovers is estimated to be less than 4,000 birds.
Federally Endangered