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Pluvianellidae – Magellanic Plover

Magellanic Plover in Chile: Photo by Luke Seitz

Pluvianellidae, a family of wading birds, includes a single species, the Magellanic Plover. Found in southern South America, this unique bird resembles a plover but is more closely related to the sheathbills. It inhabits coastal areas and estuaries, and its plumage shifts from gray in summer to white in winter. Though scarce and localized, it is an intriguing bird for any observer of shorebirds.

Overview of Pluvianellidae

Magellanic Plovers inhabit lakes, playas, and estuaries in the windswept open spaces of far southern Patagonia. Despite their name, they resemble a small, long-legged dove in form and behavior. Unlike true plovers, which dart and snatch at food, these birds employ a more deliberate approach, pecking methodically as they walk, often bobbing their heads. Uniquely, they sometimes dig into the substrate with their feet to reach food, creating holes nearly their own body size in just a few minutes if the reward justifies the effort.