Pacific Golden Plover


Each year, thousands of shorebirds migrate to the CNMI to enjoy the warm beaches and rich wetlands. They arrive in late August and stay through winter in the CNMI. They depart around late March for their northern nesting and breeding grounds. Some fly all the way to Alaska or Russia. Shorebirds that are not of breeding age often stay all year because they do not need to fly north to mate and nest.


Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fluva)
Dulili (Chamorro) Ghuliing (Carolinian)
Pacific golden plovers are the most common shorebirds in the CNMI. They spend much of their time searching for tiny crabs and marine worms on the reef. They can also be found on lawns, golf courses, and grassy areas in winter, hunting for flies and other insects.

Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
Kalalang (Chamorro) Ghuliing (Carolinian)
The Whimbrel is a large shorebird with a down-curved bill. They probe muddy and rocky coastal areas for crustaceans, and search for worms and insects on lawns.

Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Dulili (Chamorro) Lighishewur (Carolinian)
Named for their feeding methods, Turnstones walk along the beach, turning over stones and pebbles to feed on the animals beneath. They also dig holes to capture burrowing crustaceans, mollusks and insects.

Grey-Tailed Tattler (Heteroscelus brevipes) and Wandering Tattlers (Heteroscelus incanus)
Dulili (Chamorro) Iilil (Carolinian)
Tattlers are found along the rocky coasts, mud flats and beaches where they feed on crabs and mollusks. They are also found in grassy areas and wetlands where they hunt for insects. These two CNMI tattlers can be best distinguished by their calls.

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Dulili (Chamorro) Ghuliing (Carolinian)
Found along the seacoast, Common sandpipers feed on benthic invertebrates. The Sandpiper gets its name from its high pitched, piping call.


Threats to shorebirds include being caught by fishermen in nets and long lines as bycatch (unwanted species), pollution, pesticides, predation, and loss of suitable breeding habitats. Migratory shorebird conservation is challenging because they utilize several different habitats, such as “stopover” sites used for resting on their long migration from their summer to their winter homes. The “Migratory Bird Treaty Act” is a law protecting these species in the CNMI.

Factoid: Tidal Rhythm
These birds set their mealtimes according to the tides, except on their non-stop flights to and from the CNMI. They can travel over 1000 miles a day.

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