Mountain Plover
(Charadrius montanus)


Picture of bird
© Cliff A Wallis
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

In Canada, the endangered Mountain Plover breeds only in the extreme south of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The first nest was found in 1979. Few data are available to assess trends for the small population in Canada, but the population has shown a large decrease in abundance relative to about 1970 in the United States. Loss of native short-grass prairie is believed to have played a dominant role in the declines, and continues to threaten the species. The species was designated Endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada in 1987 (re-confirmed in 2000 and 2009; COSEWIC 2009e), and was listed under the Species at Risk Act in 2003. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Endangered2009 
SARA (Canada)Endangered2003 
IUCN (Global)Near threatened2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch list - red2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Critically imperiled2015 
State of North America’s BirdsWatch list2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaData DeficientData DeficientBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada< 50 adults (includes birds breeding and migrating within Canada)

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

The Mountain Plover prefers disturbed habitats with exposed ground. Conversion of grasslands to cropland (especially winter wheat) and changing land management practices that favour taller grasses have been detrimental to the species (Knopf and Wunder 2006). Extreme weather events involving high precipitation or drought conditions may affect the occurrence of the species in Canada (COSEWIC 2009e). Fire suppression may also be a concern for Mountain Plovers; the species is highly attracted to recently burnt grasslands for both nesting and foraging (COSEWIC 2009e). Critical habitat attributes for the Mountain Plover were recently summarized in a multiple species action plan for Southwestern Saskatchewan (ECCC 2017a). They include: presence of prairie dogs and associated colonies, and/or a combination of large amounts of open native prairie with moderate to heavy grazing, bare, flat ground, and limited exotic grasses and woody vegetation (ECCC 2017a). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view the Recovery Strategy, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other