Egyptian plover

The janitors of the bird world

Steve Garvie

This bird, a wader found in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, is notably linked with ancient stories suggesting a symbiotic relationship with crocodiles, where it was said to clean the reptiles’ mouths, a behavior that has not been scientifically verified in modern times but contributes to the bird’s mystique.

The Egyptian Plover is a striking bird with a distinct appearance. Adults range from 19 to 21 centimeters in length and exhibit a bold pattern of contrasting colors: a black crown, back, eye mask, and breast band stand out against the white that covers the rest of the head. The blue-grey plumage on the upper parts and the vibrant orange underparts add to its distinctive look, making it easily identifiable. Their blue-grey legs are not just for wading but are also long and slender, facilitating swift movement along the sandy riverbanks where they typically feed.

Typically found near bodies of water such as rivers and lakes, the Egyptian Plover prefers sandy beaches or areas with exposed rocks where it can forage for food. Its diet consists mainly of insects, which it catches by deftly pecking with its sharp bill. The bird’s foraging technique involves running short distances before pausing to look for prey, a behavior characteristic of plovers in general.

Egyptian Plovers are often seen in pairs or small groups and are known for their relatively calm demeanor. This docility, combined with the bird’s striking appearance, makes it approachable, leading to close encounters with people. However, the birds’ tameness can sometimes place them at risk from human activity.

These birds are also known for their intriguing breeding behaviors. They nest on open ground, often near water, where they lay their eggs in a simple scrape in the sand. Both parents are involved in incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks, which are precocial and able to leave the nest soon after hatching.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Angola
2016
Benin
2016
Burkina Faso
2016
Burundi
2016
Non-Breeding
Cameroon
2016
Central Af. Rep.
2016
Chad
2016
Congo-Brazzaville
2016
Côte D’ivoire
2016
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2016
Egypt
2016
Non-Breeding
Equatorial Guinea
2016
Eritrea
2016
Ethiopia
2016
Gambia
2016
Ghana
2016
Guinea-Bissau
2016
Guinea
2016
Kenya
2016
Non-Breeding
Liberia
2016
Libya
2016
Non-Breeding
Mali
2016
Mauritania
2016
Niger
2016
Nigeria
2016
Senegal
2016
Sierra Leone
2016
South Sudan
2016
Breeding
Sudan
2016
Togo
2016
Uganda
2016

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic / Monomorphic (size)

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No