any member of the large group of birds that includes the sandpipers, plovers, gulls, auks, and their relatives. These birds form an important and familiar segment of the avifauna of the world's coasts and inland waterways, of the Arctic regions, and of the oceans and their islands. They are mostly strong-flying birds of open country or open water, nesting on the ground and feeding on animal matter in or near water. The order is worldwide in distribution, and some species perform the most extensive migrations of any birds.
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