Pluvianellus – Magellanic plover

On the brink of disappearance due to habitat destruction, global warming, and overgrazing

A unique and enigmatic family of birds endemic to the southernmost tip of South America. Resembling a dove in shape, the Magellanic plover exhibits intriguing physical and behavioral characteristics reminiscent of turnstones, another group of shorebirds known for their adeptness at flipping seaweeds and stones to uncover invertebrate prey.

The Magellanic Plover is a small, migratory shorebird found in South America. It is named after the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who first encountered the bird during his voyage around the world in the early 16th century. This is a distinctive-looking bird with a black head and neck, a white belly, and a rufous-brown back. It has a long, pointed bill and yellow legs. The bird is about 18-20 cm (7-8 inches) in length and weighs around 50-60 grams (1.8-2.1 ounces).

These birds are social birds and are often seen in flocks. It is a vocal bird, and its calls include a variety of whistles, peeps, and trills. The bird is also known for its elaborate courtship displays, which involve the male bird flying high into the air and then diving down to the ground.

Despite its fascinating adaptations, the Magellanic plover faces numerous threats to its survival, primarily stemming from habitat degradation and human activities. The natural grasslands of Patagonia, where these birds nest and forage, have been significantly impacted by livestock grazing, leading to the loss and fragmentation of suitable habitat. Trampling of nests by grazing animals further exacerbates the threat to breeding success, as these ground-nesting birds are particularly vulnerable to disturbance.