RFI: identification of golden plover species

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: RFI: identification of golden plover species
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 06:41:21 -0700
Hello Birding-ausers,
(especially shorebird experts)

Edwin Vella's recent posting re the possible American Golden Plover at Ash
Island, Newcastle, and Bob Forsyth's possible AGPs at Mt Isa have had me
(Please note I am not disputing either identification; I am simply seeking
information for my own education.)

The waders in my area (Woody Point, SE Queensland, Australia) seem to be a
little low in numbers so far this season.
However, there has been a small flock of golden plovers (15 - 20) down the road
from my place for a couple of weeks now.
I have been recording them as Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva.
I presume that Edwin and Bob F are talking about P. dominica.

Having checked (admittedly not intensively due to lack of time) the Australian
field guides, HANZAB, Hayman's "Shorebirds", RAOU's "The Taxonomy and Species of
Birds of Australia and its Territories" (1994), and a few other books, I am of
the feeling that it is very difficult to separate Pacific Golden Plover from
American Golden Plover in the field.

In fact, Hayman (Shorebirds, 1986) states under Pacific Golden Plover:
"Measurements will separate more than 90%, but using all characters Connors
(1983) was unable to identify 7% of North American breeders".
Also, under American Golden Plover: "Particularly in breeding plumage, some
individuals cannot be assigned with certainty to either species, even using a
combination of measurements and plumage characters, and should be left

The Handbook of Australian New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (HANZAB) Vol 2 states
in the 'Recognition' section of Pacific Golden Plover: ".......using all
combinations of biometric and plumage variables, Connors (1983) could not
identify c. 4% of skins in breeding plumage from areas of allopatry".
This statement was made in reference to Pacific Golden and American Golden

My question is:
Are there any shorebird experts reading this who are experienced with both of
these species?
If so, are they able to reliably identify each of these species in the field and ?

Finally, am I correct in believing that the only 'golden' plover currently
accepted on the 'Australian List' is Pacific Golden Plover, P. fulva?

Bob Inglis
Woody Point

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