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Tibetan Sand Plover - BirdForum Opus

Ssp. A. a. atrifrons : Breeding plumage
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Nazafgarh Marshes, Delhi-Gurgaon Border, India, May-2017
Anarhynchus atrifrons

Charadrius atrifrons


18–21 cm (7-8¼ in)

  • back brownish grey
  • underparts white
  • flanks clean, whitish
  • legs dark
  • bill black


  • breast, forehead and nape chestnut
  • eye mask black

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


Breeds from the Himalayas, on the west end north to Kyrgyzstan and south to northern India, and on the east end north to west-central China and Mongolia. Winters along coasts or slightly inland in south Asia from Taiwan south to the Greater Sundas, west from there to the Red Sea and Africa south to Mozambique.
Vagrants have been recorded in Europe and Australia.

Ssp. A. a. pamirensis : Non-breeding plumage
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Jamnagar, Coastal Gujarat, India, Jan-2016


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


Clements recognizes these subspecies[1]:


Breeds at high elevation, above the tree line, usually in dry areas that are near temporary water sources. During migration and winter, their habitat is similar to what would be expected for other plovers.


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



  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/

Recommended Citation

External Links

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