Ghosts of the Prairie – Mountain Plovers

/, Birds, Davis County, Mountain Plovers, Utah/Ghosts of the Prairie – Mountain Plovers

Mountain Plover female resting on the groundMountain Plover female resting on the ground

On April 10th I spotted two Mountain Plovers on Antelope Island State Park after reporting it to the UBIRD birding list many birders and bird photographers sped to the island to see these birds which are a rarity in this area. These were birds I had dreamed of seeing and they were even more wonderful than I had ever hoped to see in person and photograph.

Mountain Plover male in the grassMountain Plover male in the grass

Mountain Plovers are also called Ghosts of the Prairie or Prairie Ghosts because of their habit of squatting with their backs to disturbance in the prairies their coloring makes them seemingly disappear from view. The two Ghosts of the Prairie – Mountain Plovers I found didn’t disappear into the grasses because the grasses were green at the time. If they were here now though they would blend right into the setting because the grass has dried up to a faded tawny color.

Over the shoulder look from a female Mountain PloverOver the shoulder look from a female Mountain Plover

As I photographed these Mountain Plovers I became enamored by their beauty, movements and that they were not skittish at all. They moved quickly when they were foraging and would also stand very still at times too.

My sighting was the 10th vetted record for Mountain Plovers in Utah and truly I was dumbstruck when I realized what I was seeing in April.

Male Mountain Plover in a sandy locationMale Mountain Plover in a sandy location

The Mountain Plovers were migrating through to their breeding grounds and were in the same location for two days which allowed many of the birders and bird photographers to get great views and images of them. I never hear the birds call while I was with them but I wish I had because their call sounds delightful to my ears, you can listen to it here.

Female Mountain Plover with an eye on meFemale Mountain Plover with an eye on me

I read up on their nesting behaviors and found out that the female lays a clutch of three eggs then leaves the male to incubate them and then she lays three more eggs that she incubates. They will renest if the eggs are lost to predation.

Male Mountain Plover with a caterpillarMale Mountain Plover with a caterpillar

I don’t know that I will ever be lucky enough to find Mountain Plovers again but I do know that if I do I will be just as enthralled with them as I was that morning in April. Photographing these plovers was a gift.



  1. Mia McPherson July 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    My thanks to each of you for your wonderful comments on this post.

    WC, your comment touched me, thank you so much.

  2. Wickersham's Conscience July 10, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Okay, now I’m jealous. A wonderful find and stunningly good photos. The third one in your series is among the best photos I’ve seen you post, and that’s a mighty high standard. Congratulations on the find and, by the way, congratulations on the fourth anniversary in Utah.

  3. Bryce Robinson July 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    What a find. I remember how jealous I was when you posted this bird. Great photos coupled with a great discussion, as always. I’m glad you were there to get such wonderful images.

  4. Sherry in MT July 9, 2013 at 9:02 am

    What a fabulous find and THAT is what makes birdwatching such great fun. When yoiu see those things you or many others haven’t seen before. Very special!

  5. Mark Elliott July 8, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Beautiful birds and great photography. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Sheila July 8, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    WoW, just beautiful! I have never seen the Mountain Plover!

  7. Merrill Ann Gonzales July 8, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Magnificent shots of some wonderful birds! They are gorgeous. Amazing how thrilling birding can be!

  8. Tammy Karr July 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Congrats on this magnificent sighting! I can see why you are so enamored with this delightful species! I’m happy to be able to enjoy their beauty through your photos!

  9. eric c11 July 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    it s a beautifull bird, never seen before, i m happy for you to watch it so nicely
    have a nice day

  10. Stu July 8, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Startlingly Amazing Pictures Mia! ( ok I wanted some new phrase 😉 So crisp, clear, clean and close. 😉 great detail and framing as always. Thanks for sharing your photos.

  11. Julie G. July 8, 2013 at 10:37 am

    How fortunate you were to observe these beauties. Resplendent close-up, detailed images of the plovers!

  12. M. Firpi July 8, 2013 at 8:28 am

    I like the name: “ghosts”; it seems to apply to their behaviour among the grass.

  13. Susan Stone July 8, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Beautiful photos of beautiful birds!

  14. Bob Bushell July 8, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Great, lovely Mountain Plover. I’ve never seen one, not even in books, but, I can now.

  15. patty chadwick July 8, 2013 at 6:15 am

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! Thanks for letting us share you good luck. That is one cute bird…beautiful, soft colors. I’ve never even heard of them before…still working on getting the sound…am determined to do so. great hooting, Mia. You can pat yourself on the back for this one.

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