Chunky, medium-sized shorebird with short, stout bill. In breeding season, shows striking black face and belly with bold black-and-white checkering on upperparts; note clean white undertail. In nonbreeding season, more uniformly drab gray with whitish belly. Juveniles are crisp and neatly spangled above, often with a soft golden hue. Often confused with golden-plovers. In all seasons, note Black-bellied's stockier shape, thicker bill, and diagnostic black “armpits” in flight. Feeds on beaches and mudflats by walking or running, stopping, and pecking at the surface. Often in flocks. Common and widespread across the globe, especially on coastlines; less common inland. Breeds on Arctic tundra.