Fairly common but often local, breeding on moorland and tundra, wintering in grasslands, fields, and less often coastal mudflats. Migrant and wintering birds often flock with lapwings. Smaller than Black-bellied (Gray) Plover, which has gray or silvery upperparts. All plumages of Golden are spangled and spotted golden above; breeding plumage has variable black on face and belly. Nonbreeding plumage is buffy golden overall with white belly. In flight shows bright white underwings, narrow whitish wing stripe.
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