Nature conservation

Threatened species

Greater Sand-plover - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Charadrius leschenaultii
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Vulnerable
Profile last updated: 26 Mar 2019


The non-breeding Greater Sand-plover (i.e. as expected in Australia) has a grey-brown crown, nape, back and breast patches. The lores, bill and upperwing are dark, with dusky ear-coverts. There is prominent white plumage on the forehead, chin, throat and underparts, including the underwing. The legs and feet are greenish-grey; this helps distinguish it from the very similar Lesser Sand-plover, which has dark grey legs. Birds have a hunched, horizontal stance when relaxed, and a more upright extended stance when alert. When breeding in the Northern Hemisphere, the plumage on the breast, crown and nape changes to a dull brick-red and the ear coverts become black. Elements of this plumage may be visible in some Australian birds just after arrival in spring or prior to departure in autumn, and in some overwintering birds.


The Greater Sand-plover breeds in central Asia from Armenia to Mongolia, moving further south for winter. In Australia the species is commonly recorded in parties of 10-20 on the west coast, with the far northwest being the stronghold of the population. The species is apparently rare on the east coast, usually found singly. In NSW, the species has been recorded between the northern rivers and the Illawarra, with most records coming from the Clarence and Richmond estuaries.

Habitat and ecology

  • Almost entirely restricted to coastal areas in NSW, occurring mainly on sheltered sandy, shelly or muddy beaches or estuaries with large intertidal mudflats or sandbanks.
  • Roosts during high tide on sandy beaches and rocky shores; begin foraging activity on wet ground at low tide, usually away from the edge of the water; individuals may forage and roost with other waders.
  • Diet includes insects, crustaceans, polychaete worms and molluscs.
  • Prey is detected visually by running a short distance, stopping to look, then running to collect the prey.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Known Within 5 km of coast
NSW North CoastKaruah Manning Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known Within 5 km of coast
NSW North CoastYuraygir Known Within 5 km of coast
OceanBatemans Shelf Known None
OceanHawkesbury Shelf Known None
OceanManning Shelf Known None
OceanSouth Pacific Ocean Predicted None
OceanTweed-Moreton Known None
OceanTwofold Shelf Predicted None
Ocean - Other StateNorthern Australian Coastal Waters Known None
Ocean - Other StateSouthern Australian Coastal Waters Known None
Other StateQLD Known None
Other StateSA Known None
Other StateVIC Known None
South East CornerBateman Known None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Known Within 5 km of coast
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known Within 5 km of coast
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Predicted Within 5 km of coast
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Known Within 5 km of coast
Sydney BasinHunter Known None
Sydney BasinIllawarra Known None
Sydney BasinPittwater Known None
Sydney BasinWyong Known None