Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Snowy Plover - Charadrius nivosus
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General Comments In 2011, the American Ornithologists' Union split the European subspecies and the American subspecies of the Snowy Plover into separate species -- the former becomes the Kentish Plover, retaining the original scientific name ofCharadrius alexandrinus, whereas "our" bird retains the common name of Snowy Plover, but is now C. nivosus. This smallest of plovers, of the Western States and the Gulf Coast, was for a long time sadly missing from the North Carolina bird list. Finally, a sight record of the Snowy Plover came in 1994 from remote New Drum Inlet in coastal Carteret, hardly at a "chase-able" location. Then, starting in 2006, Snowies started showing up practically annually somewhere along the coast, and because birds showed up in successive years at the same locale (e.g., Bear Island and Ocracoke Island), it is practically impossible to say how many distinct records there are for the state. The species is a bird of saline flats and pools, appearing exclusively in the state on ocean beaches and inlet flats.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G3
Coastal Plain Very rare stray along the central and southern coast, from spring to fall; one winter record. There are about 14-15 records, all of single birds. The first record came from New Drum Inlet (Carteret) in 1994 [Chat 63:85 link]. Most records fall between Bear Island (Onslow) on the north and Wrightsville Beach (New Hanover) on the south, but there are scattered records north to Cape Hatteras Point (Dare). Primarily from late Apr to late Sep. The only winter record is from Bear Island, 18 Feb - 6 Apr 2013. Most records were documented by photographs, and most have been accepted by the NC BRC. There are no inland records, nor coastal records north of Cape Hatteras.
Piedmont No records.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips In the warmer months, it doesn't hurt to carefully scrutinize small plovers along the beaches and inlets, as a Snowy could be overlooked as a Piping Plover by inexperienced birders, or by birders without scopes.
Attribution LeGrand[2018-02-01], LeGrand[2017-12-17], LeGrand[2017-08-24]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.