Upperparts speckled with black, gold and white, and underparts are entirely black. A white stripe extends from the forehead and eyebrows along the edge of the black throat and breast. The bill is much smaller than that of the black-bellied plover. Viewed in flight, the nonbreeding plumage is mostly brownish, the wings lack a prominent white stripe and the underwing linings are pale with no black near the body at the base of the wings. Voice is a sharp, quick, 2- or 3-syllable whistle.