• • •The Black-bellied Plover’s face, throat and belly are painted black during breeding season – from April to September – and a dull gray the rest of the year. In between, they take on a mottled black-and-white appearance as they transition between the two. With long, narrow wings, they glide elegantly along the breaking surf.
They are larger than the American Golden-Plover, which passes through the Gulf Coast on its northward migration, and have a distinctive white rump and black armpit. Black-bellied Plover are winter residents on the Gulf Coast before migrating to their summer home in the Arctic tundra.
They will gather and fly in flocks but disperse when feeding along the shoreline and coastal mudflats, where they pick at marine worms, crustaceans and mollusks.
Black-bellied Plovers are skittish and among the first birds to fly up on the beach as something – or someone – approaches. Their alarm cascades among the other birds feeding nearby and can quickly empty the beach.