Charadrius leschenaultii (Greater sand plover, Sand plover) 

Grootstrandkiewiet [Afrikaans]; Woestijnplevier [Dutch]; Pluvier de Leschenault [French]; Wüstenregenpfeifer [German]; Borrelho-do-deserto [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 leschenaultii (Greater sand plover, Sand plover)   

Greater sand plover, India. [photo Arpit Deomurari ©]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds from Turkey to Mongolia, heading south in the non-breeding season to southern Asia, Australia, the Malagasy region, Persion Gulf and the east coast of Africa. In southern Africa it is uncommon along the coast of Mozambique and South Africa, with an isolated population on the central Namibia coast. It generally prefers mixed sand and mud along the margins of estuaries and tidal lagoons, occasionally moving to coastal dunes.

Distribution of Greater sand 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

Birds in southern Africa originate from central Asia, arriving in southern Africa from September and staying until about April-May.


It mainly eats fairly large invertebrates, doing most of its foraging using the typical technique of plovers, running for about 10 seconds, stopping then searching for prey before repeating the process. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Invertebrates
    • Upogebia africana (Estuarine mudprawn)
    • small crabs
      • Dotilla fenestrata (Army crab)
      • Cleistosoma
      • Uca vocans (Fiddler crabs)
    • polychaetes
    • worms
    • molluscs


Not threatened, although destruction of steppe habitat at its breeding grounds is cause for concern.


  • 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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