Kentish Plover Status Assessment


The Kentish Plover is one of the most widespread shorebird species in the Eurasian and North African regions. Its breeding population ranging from the Azores and Canary Islands (Spain) up to Japan through Eurasia. Despite the huge range, there is little information available on the current size and trends of the entire breeding population. Its IUCN Red List status is Least Concern. The actual population trend is decreasing but it is believed that the speed of the negative population trend (30% decline over10 years) and the change in the population size of Kentish Plover (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years) are under these criteria. Thus, they still don't qualify to change the conservation status to Vulnerable.

The national bird atlases vastly increase our knowledge about the trends, distribution, and size of the local populations. The new European Bird Atlas 2 is an important resource for up-to-date information on the species in Europe. There is little known about the West and North African, the Eastern Mediterranean, and most of the Asian breeding populations.

Former estimates of Kentish Plovers sub-populations Stroud et al (2004):
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus alexandrinus

  • Coastal West Mediterranean, Western Europe and South Scandivaia – 62,000-70,000 ind.
    1% threshold: 660 ind.

  • The Black Sea and East Mediterranean – 32,000-49,000 ind.
    1% threshold: 410 ind.

  • Southwest Asia – 25,000-100,000 ind.
    1% threshold: 1,000 ind.

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus nihonensis

  • China, Korean Penninsula, Japan and Taiwan – 100,000 ind.
    1% threshold: 1,000 ind.

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus seebohmi

  • South India and Sri Lanka – 8,000-10,000 ind.
    1% threshold: 90 ind.

The former Kentish Plover subspecies C. a. delbatus has recently been elevated to species status, known as White-faced Plover Charadrius delbatus with restricted range to the SE China.


The Kentish Plover Status Assessment Project aims

  • to estimate the breeding population of the Kentish Plover across it's breeding range;

  • to identify subpopulations;

  • to estimate the wintering population of each sub-populations;

  • to propose the change of its conservation status, if it qualifies.


Breeding population survey 2021–2022


During the breeding season, between March and August, minimum of 3 visits are required to count/estimate the number of breeding pairs. In the subtropical desert climate zone, the breeding season of Kentish Plovers starts as early as March and can last until the end of August. Therefore, multiple visits during the Summer is recommended during the breeding season. The project adopted the breeding codes of eBird to evaluate the probability of nesting.

  • CN Carrying Nesting Material (Confirmed/Probable) -- Adult carrying nesting material; nest site not seen.

  • PE Physiological Evidence (Probable) -- Physiological evidence of nesting, usually a brood patch. This will be used only very rarely.

  • A Agitated Behavior (Probable) -- Agitated behaviour or anxiety calls from an adult. This excludes responses elicited by "pishing", playing recordings, or mobbing behaviour that species engage in year-round (for instance, mobbing an owl).

  • C Courtship, Display or Copulation (Probable)-- Courtship or copulation observed, including displays and courtship feeding.

  • T Territorial Defense (Probable) -- Permanent territory presumed through the defence of breeding territory by fighting or chasing individuals of same species.

  • P Pair in Suitable Habitat (Probable) -- Pair observed in suitable breeding habitat (for some projects only during breeding season).

  • H In Appropriate Habitat (Possible) -- Adult in suitable nesting habitat during its breeding season.

Applicable breeding and behavioural codes:​

  • NE Nest with Eggs (Confirmed) -- Nest with eggs.

  • FS Carrying Fecal Sac (Confirmed) -- Adult carrying faecal sac.

  • FY Feeding Young (Confirmed) -- Adult feeding/escorting/guarding young that have left the nest, but are not yet flying and independent (for some projects should not be used with raptors, terns, and other species that may move many miles from the nest site; often supersedes FL).

  • FL Recently Fledged Young (Confirmed) -- Recently fledged or downy young observed while still dependent upon adults.

  • ON Occupied Nest (Confirmed) -- Occupied nest presumed by parent entering and remaining, exchanging incubation duties, etc.

  • UN Used Nest (enter 0 if no birds were seen) (Confirmed) -- Nest is present, but not active. Use only if you are certain of the species that built the nest.

  • DD Distraction Display (Confirmed) -- Distraction display, including feigning injury.

  • NB Nest Building (Confirmed/Probable) --  Nest building at an apparent nest site.

Survey method and mapping

The Kentish Plover prefers barren grounds for breeding with sparse and low vegetation or no vegetation at all. Determining the number of incubating birds or the feeding families are relatively easy by using a spotting scope. Using a spotting scope also keeps the surveyor off the nesting ground to limit disturbance. If visits are made after hatching it is very useful to counts chicks separately from adults to be able to estimate the number of nesting pairs.

Based on historical data and/or personal knowledge, surveyors pre-select the potential nesting sites on Google Map. Each Survey location gets its own survey map with 1x1 and 10x10 km UTM grid references. The number of confirmed breeding pairs is linked with each UTM square where Kentish Plovers what is essential to calculate the density of breeding birds.

Breeding numbers

The project aims to get the best possible estimate or determining the exact number of breeding pairs. If the exact number of breeding pairs cannot be determined, a list of breeding categories has to be used. The surveyor makes the best and closest possible estimate of the number of breeding pairs.

Breeding categories: B: 5-10; C: 11-15; D: 16-25; E: 26-50; F: 51-100.

Additional (optional) information

Surveyors are also asked to provide additional information about the nesting site such as habitat type, anthropogenic effects, main predators and visible and potential threats.

Historical data

Prior to the survey, historical data is collected of the size of the breeding population where it is available. This helps to understand the trends and the speed of changes in different subpopulations. The same form (below) can be used for historical records.

Photo the

It is not essential but very useful to have the nesting sites photo-documented. Photos of different habitat types, condition of the site, activities and threats, a sign of predators are recommended to take. Photos of nests and eggs should be taken with care. If we accidentally found a nest it's okay to take photos of the nest as quickly as possible. No need to search for nests just for a photograph. Keep the safety of the clutch as the main priority.


AlRashidi, M., Long, P. R., O’Connell, M., Shobrak, M. & Székely, T. (2011).Use of remote sensing to identify suitable breeding habitat for the Kentish Plover and estimate population size along the western coast of Saudi Arabia. Wader Study Group Bulletin 118.

M. Bamford, D. Watkins, W. Bancroft, G. Tischler and J. Wahl. 2008. Migratory Shorebirds of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway; Population Estimates and Important Sites. Wetlands International Global Series, International Wader Study Group International Wader Studies.

BirdLife International. 2019. Charadrius alexandrinus (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T22727487A155485165. Downloaded on 17 January 2021.

Gill F, D Donsker & P Rasmussen (Eds). 2020. IOC World Bird List (v10.2).

doi: 10.14344/IOC.ML.10.2.

del Hoyo, J., P. Wiersma, G. M. Kirwan, N. Collar, P. F. D. Boesman, and C.J. Sharpe (2020). Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, B. K. Keeney, P. G. Rodewald, and T. S. Schulenberg, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Montalvo, T. & Figuerola, J. 2006. The distribution and conservation of the Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus in Catalonia. Revista Catalana d’Ornitologia 22, 1–8.

Stroud, D.A., Davidson, N.C., West, R., Scott, D.A., Haanstra, L., Thorup, O., Ganter, B. & Delany, S.  (compilers) on behalf of the International Wader Study Group  2004.  The status of migratory wader populations in Africa and Western Eurasia in the 1990s.  International Wader Studies 15: 259pp.