Length, 21-23.5 cm; wingspan, approx, 58 cm
Estimated at 8,000-10,000
Shortgrass prairie, grazed areas and freshly plowed fields
Alberta, Canada Saskatchewan, Canada New Mexico, USA Panhandle, TX 79068, USA Imperial Valley, California 92283, USA
Now you see it, now you don't. By simply turning its back to an intruder and squatting down, the mountain plover is able to virtually vanish into the landscape, a faculty that has earned it the nickname "prairie ghost". The elusive bird is equally adept at advertising its presence during breeding season; one display involves flying five to then meters in the air, locking its wings and calling as it floats downward like a falling leaf. Nesting on both rangeland and cropland, the mountain plover is vulnerable to predation and agricultural practices. As a result, its vanishing act is fast becoming more than an act.