Upland Plover

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Nature Magazine, August-September 1944

This photograph by J. W. Jackson, taken on the plains in northwestern Colorado, shows an adult bird standing at attention, its plumage just fluffed by a summer breeze. The species used to occur in great abundance over an enormous area. It nested in suitable places from central Alaska and British Columbia eastward to Hudson Bay, south to our middle states, and nearly to the Pacific. It passes the winter on the grassy plains of South America from Southern Brazil to Argentina. Having no special enemies under primitive conditions, its numbers must have been beyond calculation.

The settlement of America by Europeans, however, brought dangers that threatened to sweep it from the face of the earth. The mere occupation of its grassy kingdom by man was not unduly serious, but the firearms he brought proved a menace against which no creature with succulent flesh can hope to cope, unless man shall learn to stay his hand. Its numbers began to lessen noticeably about 1880. Later the market hunter caught up with it in its southern winter home, and this may continue.

For some years the shooting of this bird in North America has been forbidden. This, and the stopping of traffic in game, have helped to bring back a few birds in some places where the species had disappeared. But the lack of protection in Latin America is a serious factor.