Caspian Plover Charadrius asiaticus


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The population is estimated at 40,000-55,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2016).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species became regionally extinct in Europe after 1980 (BirdLife International 2015). Populations in the core of the range are thought to be fairly stable (Wiersma et al. 2016).


Behaviour This species is fully migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It migrates to winter in African between August and October, and once within Africa moves south in a nomadic fashion following the dry season (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species departs from southern Africa in late-February to early March, and from East and south-east Africa in late-March to early-April, frequenting stop-over sites in Iran, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea (it over-flies this Middle Eastern region during the Autumn migration), arriving in the breeding grounds again from late-March to early-May (del Hoyo et al. 1996). On migration the species usually moves in flocks of 5-12 (and sometimes up to 30) individuals, and whilst over-wintering in Africa it moves in Nomadic flocks of 5-20 individuals (del Hoyo et al. 1996). When breeding this species may nest singly or in small loose colonies of 10-25 pairs spaced at least 50-60 m apart (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat Breeding This species breeds in desert and desert steppe near water amongst sparse shrub vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1996) up to about 800 m (Snow and Perrins 1998). It is primarily associated with saline habitats such as salt-pans, saline soils subject to seasonal flooding (del Hoyo et al. 1996), inland saltmarshes (Johnsgard 1981) and alkali flats (Flint et al. 1984). The species concentrates in flocks after breeding but whilst still in its breeding range on the banks of lakes, rivers, water-holes trampled by cattle (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and cultivated land (Hayman et al. 1986). Non-breeding In its non-breeding range (Africa) the species is often found far from water on recently burnt or heavily grazed grassland, dry floodplains, ploughed cultivated land, coastal dunes (Somalia) (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005), the dried mud of lake shores (Hayman et al. 1986), salt-pans, saltmarshes, (Hockey et al. 2005) airfields and golf courses (where it is attracted by insects on animal droppings) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). During migration the species has been recorded on damp sandbanks and pebble beds along the Zambezi River, Zimbabwe (Hockey et al. 2005). Diet The species is primarily carnivorous throughout both the breeding and non-breeding seasons. Breeding Whilst breeding the species takes mainly adult and larval insects (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996) such as beetles, ants, grasshoppers, bugs, caterpillars and flies, although it will occasionally take plant material (e.g. grass seeds) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding During the non-breeding season beetles, termites, grasshoppers and small snails are the main contributors to this species diet, and it is often observed hunting for insects in town refuse heaps and cattle dung (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest of this species is a shallow scrape on open ground or amongst low vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1996).


The main threat to this species is the destruction of natural steppe and grassland though overgrazing and conversion to intensive agricultural practices, especially within the European (breeding) part of its range (del Hoyo et al. 1996) where it is now considered Regionally Extinct (BirdLife International 2015).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no conservation actions known to be in place for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
The maintenance of large areas of suitable habitat and establishing areas of desert steppe reserves would ensure population viability. In addition there is a need to moderate agricultural intensification and avoid overgrazing within areas of breeding birds. Research should be conducted into population ecology, distribution and the habitat and feeding requirements of the species (Tucker and Heath 1994).


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L., Butchart, S., Ashpole, J

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Charadrius asiaticus. Downloaded from on 27/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/06/2022.