The adult three-banded plover is 18 cm in length. It has long wings and a long tail, and therefore looks different from most other small plovers in flight, the exception being the closely related Forbes's plover that replaces it in west Africa. The adult three-banded plover has medium brown upperparts, and the underparts are white except for the two black breast bands, separated by a white band, which give this species its common and scientific names. The head is strikingly patterned, with a black crown, white supercilia extending from the white forehead to meet on the back of the neck, and a grey face becoming brown on the neck. The eye ring and the base of the otherwise black bill are red. This species is often seen as single individuals, but it will form small flocks.

Habitat and Distribution

This plover is resident in much of eastern and southern Africa and Madagascar, mainly on inland rivers, pools, and lakes.


It hunts by sight for insects, worms and other invertebrates.


Its nest is a bare scrape on shingle.

Calls and Songs

Three-banded plover has a sharp whistled weeet-weet call.