American Golden-Plovers have dark brown upper parts, spangled with gold to pale yellow or whitish. A white stripe extends from the forehead, over the eyes, to the wings. Breeding males are solid black from chin to under-tail coverts. Females are duller in color. Non-breeding adults and juveniles have white throats, gray-brown breasts, and white bellies. The breasts and sides may be striped with brown, or spotted in juveniles. American Golden-Plovers can be distinguished from Black-bellied Plovers by their smaller size, dark rump and wings, and gray under the wing.