Ringed plover

Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover ©Tom Marshall

Ringed plover

Scientific name: Charadrius hiaticula
The Ringed plover is a small wader that nests around the coast, flooded gravel pits and reservoirs. It is similar to the Little Ringed Plover, but is a little larger, has an orange bill and legs, and doesn't have a yellow ring around its eye.

Species information


Length: 18-20cm
Wingspan: 52cm
Weight: 64g
Average lifespan: 5 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

January to December


A small, rotund wader, the Ringed plover nests on bare gravel, shingle and sand at the coast and around flooded gravel pits and reservoirs. Unlike its relation, the Little ringed plover, it is a resident species in the UK, although it is joined by wintering birds from Europe. Like other plovers, it forages for invertebrates and crustaceans in a particular way: standing and watching, running forward, pecking, then standing still again. The Ringed Plover tempts underground prey to the surface by 'foot-trembling': tapping its feet fast on the ground to mimic raindrops.

How to identify

Larger and chunkier than the Little ringed plover, the ringed plover has an orange bill with a black tip, orange legs and no yellow ring around the eye. Sandy-brown above and white below, it has a black chest-band and black bridle markings on its head. When it flies, it displays a broad, white wingbar.


A common resident right around the coast that can also be found breeding on inland flooded gravel pits and reservoirs.

Did you know?

Ringed plovers that nest as far away as Greenland and Canada fly through the UK on migration.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland and coastal nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.