Charadrius montanus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Charadrius montanus
Species Authority: Townsend, 1837
Common Name(s):
English Mountain Plover

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Dreitz, V., Dinsmore, S., Manzano, P., Leachman, B., Wunder, M., Estelle, V., Lockwood, M., Earsom, S., Knopf, F. & Butcher, G.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Pilgrim, J., Butchart, S., Benstead, P., Harding, M., Bird, J., Mahood, S.
This species is classified as Near Threatened because it has a moderately small population. However, it is continuing to decline as a consequence of habitat loss and degradation resulting from cultivation, urbanisation, over-grazing, and changes in native herbivore populations.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Charadrius montanus breeds in south Alberta and south-west Saskatchewan, Canada, and Montana, Wyoming (3,400 adults), eastern Colorado (8,600 individuals), Park County in Colorado (2,300 adults), New Mexico and the Oklahoma Panhandle (68-91 individuals), U.S.A. (Knopf 1996, Childers and Dinsmore 2008, McConnell et al. 2009). It has bred in Texas, east Utah (Day 1994) and once in eastern Arizona (Knopf and Rupert 1999), and has apparently been extirpated from former breeding areas in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas (McConnell et al. 2009). All these birds winter from Sacramento, San Joaquin and Imperial valleys, California (Knopf and Rupert 1995, S. D. Earsom and V. B. Estelle in litt. 1999), south to Baja California, Mexico (Wilbur 1987), and irregularly in south Arizona and south Texas in the Blackland Prairie (Knopf 1996, M. Lockwood in litt. 1999). Abundant in the 19th century, it declined to an estimated 8,000-9,000 birds in 1995, including a 63% decrease from 1966-1991 (Knopf 1996), but the population is now estimated at 11,000-14,000 individuals (Plumb et al. 2005). These figures are likely to reflect an increase in counting accuracy rather than a recent population increase. Breeding was first successful in Nuevo León, Mexico, in 2004 (Gonzales Rojas et al. 2006) following an unsuccessful attempt in 1998 (F. L. Knopf in litt. 1998, 1999, Knopf and Rupert 1999), and in Coahuila in 1999 (Desmond and Ramirez 2002). These and/or northern birds regularly winter at Janos in Chihuahua (P. Manzano in litt. 1998, S. D. Earsom and V. B. Estelle in litt. 1999), with others reported from Sonora to Tamaulipas south to Zacatecas and San Luis Potosí (Howell and Webb 1995a, Gómez de Silva et al. 1996).

Canada; Mexico; United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population was estimated to number 11,000-14,000 individuals, but this has recently been revised upwards to 15,000-20,000 individuals, roughly equivalent to 10,000-14,000 mature individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It nests in heavily grazed, shortgrass prairie, xeric scrub and fallow fields, typically on prairie dog Cynomys spp. colonies (Knowles et al. 1982, Knopf 1996, Knopf and Rupert 1999). It arrives in Canada and northern U.S.A. in late March-April and leaves in early August (Knopf 1996). It is a dietary generalist in winter (Knopf 1998) when it inhabits semi-desert, dry, bare agricultural land and (in Mexico) breeding-type habitats (S. D. Earsom and V. B. Estelle in litt. 1999). In the Imperial Valley (California) wintering flocks show a preference for burnt Bermudagrass fields and grazed alfalfa (Wunder and Knopf 2003). The species apparently fares better during drought years (Dinsmore 2008). It flocks in winter and on migration (S. D. Earsom and V. B. Estelle in litt. 1999).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Hunting probably explains the long-term decline. More recently, cultivation and urbanisation have reduced nesting habitat, and intensive grazing has resulted in desertification and a reduced prey base (S. D. Earsom and V. B. Estelle in litt. 1999). Large declines in grazing species, especially bison and prairie dogs, have resulted in unsuitable habitat succession (Piersma 1996, Knopf and Rupert 1999). Over 70% of nests on cultivated land are destroyed by farm machinery (Shackford et al. 1999).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. Pawnee National Grassland, Colorado, and Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, Montana, are important reserves (Shackford et al. 1999). It has been proposed for listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act (F. L. Knopf in litt. 1998, 1999). Black-tailed prairie dog Cynomys ludovicianus has also been proposed, partly because it helps to maintain suitable habitat (F. L. Knopf in litt. 1998, 1999). The release of Black-footed Ferret in Mexico is helping with prairie dog colony protection (B. Leachman in litt. 2003).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Define Mexican breeding and winter distribution (S. D. Earsom and V. B. Estelle in litt. 1999). Monitor U.S.A. and Canada's populations. Research movements of birds (S. D. Earsom and V. B. Estelle in litt. 1999). Protect prairie dog colonies, especially at Janos (S. D. Earsom and V. B. Estelle in litt. 1999). Restore prairie ecosystems (include protection/reintroduction of grazers). Improve population estimates by documenting the number of birds nesting away from prairie dog colonies. Protect remaining breeding and wintering habitats and prevent further conversion of grasslands. Stop agricultural disturbance at nest sites. Monitor the extent and health of habitat throughout its range (Childers and Dinsmore 2008).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Charadrius montanus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 31 August 2015.
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