Kingdom = Animalia
Phylum = chordata
Subphylum = Vertebrata
Class = Aves
Order = Charadriiformes
Family = Charadriidae

Subfamily Charadriinae
Genus Charadrius. Common names: Plovers, Dotterels, and the Killdeer.
Genus Peltohyas. Common name: Inland Dotterel.
Genus Thinornis. Common names: Hooded Dotterel and Shore Plover.
Genus Elseyornis. Common name: Black-fronted Dotterel.
Genus Oreopholus. Common name: Tawny-throated Dotterel.
Genus Anarhynchus. Common name: Wrybill.
Genus Phegornis. Common name: Diademed Sandpiper-Plover.

Subfamily Vanellinea
Genus Vanellus. Common names: lapwings and various plovers.

Subfamily Pluvialinae
Genus Pluvialis. Common names: Plovers, especially the Golden plovers.

These are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks, and long wings. They tend to have bold patterns, often in black and white, short thicker bills, large eyes, and long legs. They can be found world-wide, except in Antarctica. There are about 66 species in all, the great majority of them shore birds. They mostly eat insects and small invertebrates. They include both migratory and non-migratory species (the closer to the equator a species lives, the less need for migrating).

Because of the number of species in this family, nearly any descriptor will have an exception. It should be noted, for example, that the Australian Inland Dotterel lives inland (i.e., not on the shore) and eats leaves, flowers, and seeds. It is also described as 'nomadic' as opposed to migratory, something I haven't seen applied to a bird species before.

The common names do not follow the taxonomic classifications. Larger birds were often called lapwings, smaller ones plovers and dotterels. There has recently been an attempt to rename the birds so that the common names match up with the taxonomy more neatly, confusing things greatly. No doubt future generations will benefit.

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