The three-banded plover, or three-banded sandplover (Charadrius tricollaris), is a small wader. This plover is resident in much of eastern and southern Africa and Madagascar, mainly on inland rivers, pools, and lakes. Its nest is a bare scrape on shingle. This species is often seen as single individuals, but it will form small flocks. It hunts by sight for insects, worms and other invertebrates. Three-banded plover has a sharp whistled weeet-weet call.
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.
The Madagascan subspecies C. t. bifrontatus has a grey band between the bill and the white forehead, and the sides of the head are grey. The sexes are similar, and the juveniles of the nominate and Madagascan subspecies also resemble the adults, although the forehead is brownish for a short time. This species is distinguished from the larger, darker Forbes’s plover in that the latter species has a brown forehead and lacks a white wingbar.