Sand Plovers in Darwin

To: "Birding-Aus (E-mail)" <>
Subject: Sand Plovers in Darwin
From: Trevor Hardaker <>
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2001 08:22:17 +0200
Hi there,

The topic of separating Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers is often discussed
all over the world. While I'm sure many of you are quite able to separate
them with ease and know all the features, I thought I would send you my
comments anyway. These are based on the comments I sent to Joseph Morlan in
California relating to their recent "Sand Plover" which I am convinced is a

The most important features in separating Greater and Lesser are considered
to be the shape and length of the bill, shape of the wingbar and uppertail
pattern. Other features worth looking for, although not always conclusive,
are leg length and colour.

Lesser's bill is normally shorter and more blunt tipped than Greater's. A
classic Greater Sand Plover really has a "monster" of a bill compared to any
Lesser that you will ever see. The smallest subspecies of Greater's bill
gets down to a similar length to that of a large Lesser and that's when one
has to look at the "bluntness" of the tip of the bill. 

With regards the wingbar, both have equally prominent inner wing bars. On
the primary bars, the Lesser's wing bar has parallel sides and is reasonably
narrow, whereas the Greater's wingbar has unparallel sides and gets wider
towards the wing tip, thus giving a far more prominent appearance. 

Lesser's uppertail pattern generally appears uniform brown with maybe some
small indications of a white edge to the tail. Greater's tail normally shows
more white on the outer feathers (although, not always), but the clincher in
the tail pattern, is that Greaters always show a prominent dark subterminal
band, with the rest of the tail, by contrast, being lighter. 

Greaters normally have longer legs with a proportionately longer tibia
showing. Leg colour in Lessers seems to remain dark grey to black, whereas
in Greaters it is almost always lighter grey and can vary through to almost
an olive green. 

Head shape and collar shape have been cited as other useful features, but I
have never found these to be of too much help in the field. And they are
also separable on call.

I hope this may be of some use to some of you out there. 

Kind Regards
Trevor Hardaker and John Graham
Cape Town, South Africa

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU