Sand Plovers in Darwin

Subject: Sand Plovers in Darwin
From: "Niven" <>
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001 21:34:19 +0930
>From: Goodfellow <>

>Hilary Thompson and I have seen a few Lesser Sand Plovers in 
the Top End with intermediate-sized beaks so it's interesting to 
read of the existence of a race.

The Parks and Wildlife people up here have done some banding of 
waders (yes, via cannon netting). I did some stats on the bill 
measurements of the sand plovers that have been caught. There 
was absolutely no overlap in the measurements of Lesser and 
Greater Sand Plover. All of the Lessers up here have clearly shorter 
bills and this is easy to see in the field. Those with distinctly short 
bills also show other characteristics of being Lessers. This clear 
dichotomy of bill size may be different from down south and east, 
as I have noticed some interstate visitors getting a little disoriented 
in their identifications, tending to want to label some of the shorter 
billed Greaters as Lessers. Basically, only very short-billed Sand 
Plovers are Lesser. Those with large bills are Greater, and those 
with 'intermediate' bills are also Greater, not large billed Lesser, 
and certainly not hybrids as has been one suggestion. Whether the 
variation in bill size of Greater (or Lesser) Sand Plover (in Darwin at 
least) is racial or not is, to all intents and purposes, beside the 
point. Being able to identify the two species is the first priority.

Happy birding
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