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Siberian Sand Plover - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Akiko Hidaka
Tokyo, Japan, August

Alternative name: Siberian Plover. The name Mongolian Plover was sometimes used for what became this species but also sometimes for other combinations of subspecies.

Anarhynchus mongolus

Charadrius mongolus


Breeding plumage
Photo © by Francksan
Hokkaido, Japan, May 2007

18–21 cm (7-8¼ in)

  • back brownish grey
  • underparts white
  • flanks mottled
  • legs dark
  • bill black


  • breast, forehead and nape chestnut
  • eye mask black
  • front white surrounded by black which is fused with eye mask

The female is similar but duller
Winter and juvenile birds lack the chestnut

Similar species

Siberian Sand Plover differ from Tibetan Sand Plover in:

  • Siberian average larger, bill thicker and end blunter, legs shorter
  • flanks are mottled in Siberian but clean in Tibetan
  • in flight: feet protrudes past tail on Tibetan but usually not on Siberian

In breeding plumage

  • Siberian male usually have some white above bill in the "bandits mask" while this is rare in Tibetan
  • female Tibetan rarely have black in auricular area, something usually found in Siberian.

In non-breeding plumage

  • breast band (nearly) unbroken on Siberian, but limited to breast sides in Tibetan
  • pale forehead grades into the crown in Tibetan while demarcation is sharp in Siberian

Compare also with Greater Sand Plover

Similar Species

Photo © by Ken Doy
Wellington Point, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, March 2020

Greater Sand Plover


Is only known to breed within Siberia (the eastern third, also known as Far East Russia. It winters in east Asia from southern Japan and along the eastern coast of [[China} to Greater Sundas, New Guinea, Australia, and in small numbers to New Zealand.
Vagrants have been recorded in Europe, North America, and South America; however, Alaska is likely regularly visited during migration.


This species and Tibetan Sand Plover were formerly lumped under the name of Lesser Sand Plover (sometimes instead named Mongolian (Sand) Plover).


Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:


Coastal shores, mudflats and fields


Strongly migratory, however, birds in their second calendar year may stay in the wintering grounds.


They nest in a bare ground scrape; the clutch consists of 3 eggs.


Their varied diet includes insects, crustaceans, such as crabs and molluscs and annelid worms on their non-breeding grounds. What they eat during the breeding season is not well recorded.


Flight call: A hard trill.


  1. Clements, J. F., P. C. Rasmussen, T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, A. Spencer, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2023. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2023. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2024. IOC World Bird List (v 14.1). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.14.1. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  4. Thread in Birdforum Id forum discussing Lesser vs Greater Sand Plover identification
  5. Wiersma, P., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A. & Boesman, P. (2020). Lesser Sandplover (Charadrius mongolus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53845 on 3 March 2020)

Recommended Citation

External Links

Warning: the following two searches are likely to find a lot of birds that were uploaded as "Lesser Sand Plover and may include some that really belong to Tibetan Sand Plover

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