shore bird, common name for members of the large order Charadriiformes, which includes birds found on coasts and beaches throughout the world. Included in this group are the avocet, curlew, oyster catcher, phalarope, plover, sandpiper, snipe, and stilt. The similarity and close relationship of these birds is illustrated by the surf birds, which are also called plover-billed turnstones and are considered by some to be intermediate between plovers and turnstones and by others to be most closely allied to the sandpipers. The godwits, which migrate from subarctic regions S to Africa, Australia, and New Zealand and can travel more than 7,000 mi (11,300 km) nonstop, are related to the curlews but resemble the phalaropes in their breeding and nesting habits. Shore birds in general are shy, inconspicuously marked birds with long, slender bills for probing the sand or mud for food and relatively long, strong legs for wading and running. The order Charadriiformes is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.