Golden plover Pluvialis apricaria

The golden plover, also known as pluvialis apricaria, is a bird of many colours which change from summer to winter. In summer you can spot this bird by its gold, black and white speckled back along with a black face and belly bordered by a strip of white. However, in winter the gold plover’s belly, throat and face change from black to a paler buff colour.


During the summer golden plovers spend their time in the high moorlands of Scotland, before flying in tight formations to agricultural lowlands or estuaries in the winter.

Golden plovers are very social birds, exhibiting lifelong monogamous pair bonding and forming large flocks to forage for food in winter. The breeding season is usually between May and September, when females will lay around four eggs in shallow scrapes on upland moors. Both parents help to incubate the eggs and raise the chicks until they fly away and become fully independent.


  • Length: 26-29cm
  • Wingspan: 67-76cm
  • Weight: 160 – 280g


Classified in the UK as an green list species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review


Found in the Highlands of Scotland during summer and the lowlands in winter.

When to see

May-September in highland areas, October-April in lowland areas


  • The name plover comes from the Latin word pluvia meaning ‘rain’, as it was thought that plovers gathered together when it was about to rain.
  • Golden plovers can be confused with the grey plover, but the birds can be distinguished during flight as the golden plover has white armpits whereas the grey plover has black armpits.

Common name

Golden plover

Species name

Pluvialis apricaria

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

May-September in highland areas, October-April in lowland areas

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Rahoy Hills or Ben Mor Coigach.

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