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Dieren en planten

Waders   Plovers   Ringed plover   European golden plover   Avocet   Lapwing   

Golden plover

size:

length: 26-29 centimeters
wingspan: 67-76 centimeters

weight:

220 grams

color:

summer: golden back with black belly, separated by white stripe
winter: light belly with brown spots

age:

record: 12 years

food:

Insects, shellfish and worms, grass and seeds

reproduction:

maturity: 1 year
number: 4 eggs

  • Dut: Goudplevier
  • Eng: European golden plover
  • Ger: Goldregenpfeifer
  • Fries: Wilster
  • Lat: Pluvialis apricaria
  • Fr: Pluvier doré
European golden plover, Foto Fitis, www.fotofitis.nl

Golden plover

Golden plovers have beautiful plumage: a golden speckled back with a black belly. In the winter, they lose their black belly and have a much drabbier appearance. Golden plovers nest in open terrains in the high north. The males perform a collective dance in order to attract a female. They run towards each other with their wings spread open, jump over one another. The female chooses the best jumper. You see golden plovers in the Netherlands primarily during bird migration. This bird is responsible for the start of the Guinness Book of Records!

Wilsters


Golden plovers don't nest on Texel but you do see them a lot on the island. They are called wilsters by Texelaars and Frisians. There is even a street named after them in Den Burg: the Wilsterstraat. Sometimes, there are thousands of wilsters on the island. A wilster flap is a Dutch term for a clap-net used to hunt golden plovers in the 17th and 18th century.

  • From meadow to mudflats

    Golden plovers prefer to forage for food on old grasslands. This is where they find plenty of earthworms and insects. Unfortunately, this type of landscape is disappearing in the Netherlands. Almost all grasslands are intensively farmed, allowing grass to prosper even more. That's good for grass-eating birds, such as geese, but there are much fewer earthworms living in such fields. The numbers of golden plovers in agrarian areas are therefore declining.

    In the wadden region, the numbers of golden plovers are increasing every year. Particularly in late summer, golden plovers forage for food on the mudflats. Nowadays, you can see thousands of these birds on the flats by Texel. They are probably eating small shellfish, laver spire shells and lugworms.

  • Did you know that...

    ... golden plovers are the reason why the first Guinness Book of Records was published? The chairmen of the Guinness Brewery were at a shooting party in Ireland in the early 1950s and were in discussion as to whether or not the golden plover was the fastest bird in the world.

    It may not be the fastest bird in the world, but they are one of the few waders that use sight to forage at night.

  • Distribution and habitat

    During breeding season, you find golden plovers wherever tundra and extensive peat bogs are located: northern regions such as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, Scandinavia, Iceland and the Baltic States. They spend the winter further south, in southern Europe and western Africa.

    Outside of the breeding season, you can find lots of golden plovers in the Netherlands. This country is located along the migration route from nesting grounds in the high north and the warm south. The first golden plovers slowly start arriving in July, but the most are seen at the end of October and November. During mild winters, they will stay in large groups in the Netherlands. But as soon as it starts to snow and temperatures drop to freezing, these birds move further south.

  • From meadow to mudflats

    Golden plovers prefer to forage for food on old grasslands. This is where they find plenty of earthworms and insects. Unfortunately, this type of landscape is disappearing in the Netherlands. Almost all grasslands are intensively farmed, allowing grass to prosper even more. That's good for grass-eating birds, such as geese, but there are much fewer earthworms living in such fields. The numbers of golden plovers in agrarian areas are therefore declining.

    In the wadden region, the numbers of golden plovers are increasing every year. Particularly in late summer, golden plovers forage for food on the mudflats. Nowadays, you can see thousands of these birds on the flats by Texel. They are probably eating small shellfish, laver spire shells and lugworms.