• Copyright Paul B. Jones

    Argentina & Chile: Saving the Magellanic plovers of Patagonia

  • Argentina & Chile: Saving the Magellanic plovers of Patagonia

In Brief

Conservation Value:

This species has a small global poplution once estimated to be in the thousands (7,000+) but surveys in 2021-22 indicate that the population may be less than 1,000.  A comprehensive survey of known breeding sites recorded just 264 individuals, while the following wintering area surveys recorded 300 individuals (including 55 juveniles). The species is the sole member of the family Pluvianellidae, increasing its conservation significance..


Threats include reduced habitat quality of breeding areas due to sheep farming and the use of water bodies as watering holes; trampling of nests by cattle; disturbance by dogs and the use of all-terrain vehicles on the banks of lagoons. Indirect human impacts include the degradation and desertification of the Patagonian steppe due to overgrazing and climate change. Decreases in annual rainfall attributed to climate change may negatively affect reproductive success. Finally, there appears to be decreased quality of the wintering habitat near the city of Río Gallegos, with possible contamination from urban effluents and higher numbers of dogs.  An emerging threat is the installation of large wind farms in current and potential sites for plovers.

Actions & Results:

"Plover guardians" will protect nests at three key sites for the species, subject to accessibility, weather conditions, presence of the species and use by the community (mainly birdwatchers and photographers). The expected level of monitoring is.

●      Laguna Los Palos, Chile: 1 or 2 weekly visits

●      Lago Argentino, Argentina: 3 weekly visits

●      Laguna Estancia Los Pozos, Argentina: 1 visit every 10-15 days

In addition to the presence of guardians, interpretive signage will be placed at these sites that explain the ecology and needs of this species, since visitors can frequently disturb the natural dynamics of the species.

A pilot test project will use wire exclosures to protect nests from inadvertent crushing or trampling by people, sheep, or off-road vehicles.  In addition, trail cameras will be installed to monitor the effects of the actions implemented.


Lago Argentino and Laguna Estancia Los Pozos in Argentina and Laguna Los Palos in Chile


To reverse the decline of the Magellanic plover (Pluvianellus socialis).

Project Field Partner:

Our partner is the Argentinian conservation organization Asociación Ambiente Sur.


2022-2023 First year, ICFC portion: US$42,900


Click to enlarge an image

Magellanic plover by fabian penasco copy
Scott hecker points out a nest
Range of magellanic plover copy
Magellanic plovers on winter lake

In More Depth...

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