Pluvianidae – Egyptian plover

The janitors of the bird world

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.