One of the species of small plovers in North America that show a single breast band. The piping plover is pale above, with bright orange legs and a white rump conspicuous in flight. The bill shape is distinctive—chunky or seeming swollen, with the upper and lower edges of the bill appearing almost curved. These edges are in actuality straight, but the bill is so thick at the base and through much of its length that an impression of roundness is created. In winter the bill is mostly all black, but will often show at least some orange at the base and is extensively orange during the breeding season.
You will most likely encounter the piping plover on an ocean beach, lake or river shore, or mudflats. It is endangered and generally uncommon—a rare breeder in the Midwest and a casual winter visitor to coastal California.
The call is a distinctive clear peep, peeto, or peep-lo, and the display song is whistled pooeep pooeep with variations.