Magellanic plover

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Magellanic plover
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Suborder: Chionidi
Family: Pluvianellidae
Jehl, 1975
Genus: Pluvianellus
G.R. Gray, 1846
P. socialis
Binomial name
Pluvianellus socialis
G.R. Gray, 1846

The Magellanic plover (Pluvianellus socialis) is a rare wader found only in southernmost South America.


It was long placed in with the other plovers in the family Charadriidae; however, behavioural evidence suggested they were distinct, and molecular studies confirmed this, suggesting that they are actually more closely related to the sheathbills, a uniquely Antarctic family.[2] As such it is now placed in its own family, Pluvianellidae.


This species is in its structure and habits much like a turnstone, but it cannot be confused with any other wader species. Its upperparts and breast are pale grey, and the rest of the underparts are white. It has short red legs, a black bill and red eyes. In young birds, the eyes and legs are yellowish in colour, and the plumage is grey overall with scaling. The call is a dovelike coo.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

This species is not a long-distance migrant, although some birds move further north in southern Argentina in winter. The species breeds inland and then moves to the coast during the winter, particularly to estuaries.[3] One of their preferred areas during winter is in Puerto Madryn and Península Valdes, Chubut, Argentina (Jehl 1975).



This species breeds near water, usually saline lakes but there are reports of nests near rivers as well. Pairs defend territories, and both parents share incubation duties. It lays two large eggs on the ground, although usually only one chick survives. One unique aspect of its behaviour and physiology is its method of feeding its chicks. Chicks are fed by regurgitating food stored in the crop, this species being the only wader to do so.[3]


Magellanic plovers feed on small invertebrates, picked from the ground, or from under pebbles, again like a turnstone. They have been observed collecting worms in the bill in a similar fashion to a puffin.[4]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Pluvianellus socialis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22693570A93413261. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22693570A93413261.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ Paton, Tara; Bakera, Allan J.; Groth, Jeff G.; Barrowclough, George F. (2003). "RAG-1 sequences resolve phylogenetic relationships within charadriiform birds". Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution. 29 (2): 268–278. doi:10.1016/S1055-7903(03)00098-8. PMID 13678682.
  3. ^ a b Ferrari, Silvia; Imberti, Santiago; Albrieu, Carlos (2003). "Magellanic Plovers Pluvianellus socialis in southern Santa Cruz Province, Argentina" (PDF). Wader Study Group Bulletin. 101: 1–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-19.
  4. ^ Kampf, Ruud (1996). "A note on the feeding behaviour of Magellanic Plover Pluvianellus socialis". Wader Study Group Bulletin. 80: 78.