Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer


Back to Blog


A Black-Bellied Plover stands proudly on the mudflat of Elkhorn Slough, its striking appearance and surroundings creating a captivating snapshot of coastal life.

Elkhorn Slough, a coastal sanctuary nestled between Santa Cruz and Monterey, offers a haven for a diverse range of avian species, including the captivating plovers. In this article, we’ll embark on a journey to explore the world of plovers that grace the shores of Elkhorn Slough. From the striking Black-bellied Plover to the charming Killdeer, each plover species brings its own unique attributes to this picturesque habitat.

Black-bellied Plover: Coastal Elegance

The Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) showcases coastal elegance with its distinctive black underbelly and striking appearance. Often seen foraging along sandy shores, this plover species adds a touch of beauty to the slough’s coastline.

Pacific Golden Plover: Seasonal Migrant

The Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) is a seasonal migrant, gracing Elkhorn Slough during its migration. With its striking plumage and distinctive black markings, this plover species is a delightful sight for birdwatchers during its stopover.

American Golden Plover: Arctic Traveler

The American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) is a remarkable Arctic traveler that makes its presence known in Elkhorn Slough during migration. Its mottled brown and gold plumage and long migration journeys make it a fascinating subject of study for bird enthusiasts.

Snowy Plover: Coastal Gem

The Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus) is a coastal gem known for its petite size and pale plumage. Often spotted on sandy beaches, this plover species faces conservation challenges, highlighting the delicate balance between human activity and wildlife preservation.

Semipalmated Plover: Agile Shorebird

The Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) is an agile shorebird recognized by its partially webbed feet. Its rapid movements and adept foraging skills make it an intriguing species to observe along the slough’s shores.

Mongolian Plover: Rare Visitor

The Mongolian Plover (Charadrius mongolus) is a rare visitor to Elkhorn Slough, making appearances during migration. With its distinct appearance and global migration routes, spotting this plover species is a special moment for birdwatchers.

Killdeer: Charming and Vocal

The Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is a charming and vocal plover species commonly found in a variety of habitats, including the shores of Elkhorn Slough. Its distinctive “kill-deer” call and characteristic broken-wing display add to its allure.

Celebrating Plover Diversity

The plovers of Elkhorn Slough showcase the rich avian diversity that graces this coastal sanctuary. Each species, from the Black-bellied Plover’s elegance to the Killdeer’s charisma, contributes to the intricate web of life in this vibrant ecosystem.

As we wander the shores of Elkhorn Slough, let us marvel at the diverse world of plovers that call this coastal haven home. From their unique plumage to their distinct behaviors, these plover species offer a glimpse into the delicate balance of nature and the importance of preserving the habitats that sustain them. Whether catching sight of the striking Pacific Golden Plover or encountering the familiar call of the Killdeer, the plovers of Elkhorn Slough remind us of the beauty that thrives in this dynamic ecosystem.

Two Semipalmated Plovers gracefully traverse the mud flats of Elkhorn Slough, their dainty steps leaving imprints in the coastal terrain.

Tiny Wanderers of the Mudflats: Witness the charm of two Semipalmated Plovers as they explore Elkhorn Slough’s mud flats. Despite their petite size, these plovers navigate their coastal realm with grace and purpose, leaving their mark on the tranquil landscape.