Charadrius hiaticula (Common ringed plover, Ringed plover) 

Ringnekstrandkiewiet [Afrikaans]; Unokrekre [Xhosa]; Bontbekplevier [Dutch]; Pluvier grand-gravelot [French]; Sandregenpfeifer [German]; Borrelho-grande-de-coleira [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Charadriiformes > Family: Charadriidae > Genus: Charadrius

Charadrius hiaticula (Common ringed plover, Ringed plover)  Charadrius hiaticula (Common ringed plover, Ringed plover) 

Common ringed plover in breeding plumage, Sweden. [photo Kristian Svensson ]

Common ringed plover in non-breeding plumage, Lambert's Bay, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds in the circumpolar region, mainly above 60 North but largely excluding Alaska and north-western Canada, heading south in the non-breeding season to the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and sub-Saharan Africa. In southern Africa it is common along the coast, as well as in northern and south-eastern Botswana, southern Mozambique and patches of Namibia and central South Africa.  It generally prefers estuaries and lagoons on the coastline, while inland it favours mud and sand banks along the shore of rivers and wetlands, sewage works and salt pans.

Distribution of Common ringed plover in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

Palearctic breeding migrant, travelling the great distance from its northern breeding grounds, through the East African coast to southern Africa. Here it arrives in the period from September-November, eventually leaving from late February-April.


It mainly eats aquatic invertebrates, foraging by day and night using the technique typical of plovers, repeatedly running, stopping then searching for prey to pluck from the ground or water surface. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Invertebrates
    • marine polychaetes
    • crustaceans
    • molluscs
    • amphipods
    • isopods
    • insects and their larvae
    • spiders
  • Small fishes


Not threatened, although its southern African population is thought to have decreased in size since the late 1900s, probably caused by the degradation of wetlands.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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