#ABArare – Lesser Sand-Plover – Arizona

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On Sunday, October 2, Jason Wilder and Chuck LaRue found an ABA Code 3 Lesser Sand-Plover at Round Cedar Lake in Coconino County, Arizona. Pending acceptance this is a 1st record for Arizona (which has had an incredible run this fall) and one of only a very few records in western North America away from the coast. The bird has been seen both on Sunday and Monday.

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Photo: Anita Strawn de Ojeda via Macauley Library S31865635

Round Cedar Lake is located east of Flagstaff, Arizona, towards the town of Leupp. From Flagstaff, birders can take I-40 Winona, the north on Townsend/Winona Road to Leupp Rd. After about 20 miles, turn south on Indian Route 6910, then another 3.25 miles to the lake basin. The bird is reported to prefer the small channels comeing out of the basin rather than the main basin itself.

In the ABA Area, Lesser Sand-Plover is most often encountered in western Alaska, where it is an uncommon, but regular, vagrant in spring and fall. There are 20 or so records of the species along the coast from British Columbia through California, with the majority of records coming from the latter. Prior to this find, there was only one record from the interior west, from Alberta (1984). There are additional records from Rhode Island, New Jersey, Virginia, Louisiana, Florida, and Ontario.

Many birders will remember when this species was called Mongolian Plover. In fact, it may be again one day. There is a movement to split Lesser Sand-Plover into two species. If that happened, we would again have a Mongolian Plover, or perhaps a Mongolian Sand-Plover, as most, if not all, ABA Area records refer to the ssp. mongolus, which breeds in northeast Asia and winters from the Philippines to Australia.

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