Nature conservation

Threatened species

Lesser 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 mongolus
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Endangered
Profile last updated: 13 Oct 2021


The non-breeding Lesser Sand-plover has a grey-brown crown, nape, back and breast patches. The forehead, lores, bill and upperwing are dark; ear coverts are dusky. There is prominent white plumage on the forehead, chin, throat and underparts, including the underwing. The Lesser Sand-plover is distinguished from the Greater Sand-plover by a smaller body with a more upright stance, more compact appearance and dark grey (rather than greenish) legs. 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. The brick-red breast is separated from the white throat by a narrow black line. 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 Lesser Sand-plover breeds in central and north eastern Asia, migrating further south for winter. In Australia the species is found around the entire coast but is most common in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and along the east coast of Queensland and northern NSW. Individuals are rarely recorded south of the Shoalhaven estuary, and there are few inland records.

Habitat and ecology

  • Almost entirely coastal in NSW, favouring the beaches of sheltered bays, harbours and estuaries with large intertidal sandflats or mudflats; occasionally occurs on sandy beaches, coral reefs and rock platforms.
  • Highly gregarious, frequently seen in flocks exceeding 100 individuals; also often seen foraging and roosting with other wader species.
  • Roosts during high tide on sandy beaches, spits and rocky shores; forage individually or in scattered flocks on wet ground at low tide, usually away from the water’s edge.
  • Diet includes insects, crustaceans, molluscs and marine worms.
  • Prey is usually detected visually with the birds making short, quick runs, with abrupt stops to lunge at the ground or look for 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
Darling Riverine PlainsMenindee Predicted None
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 StateJervis Bay Territory Predicted 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 BasinJervis Known None
Sydney BasinPittwater Known None
Sydney BasinWyong Known None