Saturday, December 17, 2011
Trying to Differentiate the Black-bellied Plover from the American Golden Plover
In the picture above the dark face creates an illusion that the bill is longer but there is no doubt that is is stout in structure.
Here are the differences: The Black-bellied has a stouter bill, is larger with a larger head and thicker neck as well as some plumage differences. The American Golden Plover has a thinner bill, smaller body and the primaries extend beyond the tail.
Ok, this bird seems to have a slimmer bill. It looks small but, of course, I am shooting from quite a distance. The crown of the head seems darker than the BBP. My best guess is that this is an American Golden Plover.
I travelled to Renews and saw four plovers moving around the beach. Every now and then I would catch sight of the under wing patch and be sure of only the Black-bellied Plover. I could not see any difference in the four birds and came away from that viewing pretty frustrated.
While the two plovers don't look exactly the same in coloring and the plover in the back seems more stocky and larger than the front bird, I am thinking the bills are the same and both seems to have primaries that extend beyond the tail. Boy, am I confused! Is it possible that the plover in the back is a juvenile American Golden Plover?
Do I know more than I did when I started this tangle? Well, yes, a little. If I were able to see the birds side-by-side again, I would do a quick check of size, beak, primary feather length, try to note a white rump or black wingpit if I can see the bird preening or in flight. How far along am I in seeing the visual differences? Maybe 3 out of a scale of 10.
Sometimes I really think that I should know more than I do. But then again, I am sitting here with several North American field guides and some contain up to 700 North American Species. While there are considerably less species in Newfoundland, it is still a daunting task to learn so much about so many.