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A photo of a Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), male
Kentish Plover, Male

Kentish Plover

Charadrius alexandrinus

The Kentish plover, Anarhynchus alexandrinus, is a diminutive wader of the family Charadriidae. It is a bird of saline lakeshores, lagoons, and coastal regions, where it frequents sand dunes, marshes, semi-arid deserts, and tundra. Exhibiting sexual dimorphism, both sexes have pale plumage with a white underside and a grey/brown back, but males are distinguished by dark incomplete breast bands and head markings.

Identification Tips

Adult Kentish plovers possess dark legs and bills. Males, during the breeding season, are adorned with a black head bar, dark breast bands, black ear coverts, and a rufous nape and crown, though variations exist among populations. Females are paler and lack the dark markings. As the breeding season wanes, the differences between sexes diminish. Males typically have longer tarsi and flank feathers, the latter being advantageous for incubation and brood care.

Habitat

Kentish plovers select breeding habitats with low elevation, sparse vegetation, and high moisture, away from human disturbance. They show a preference for open, moist nesting sites and are known to move chicks to areas with better food availability.

Distribution

This species boasts a vast geographical range, from North Africa to Central Asia and Europe. It is found in countries such as Senegal, China, Spain, and Austria. Some populations are migratory, wintering in Africa, while others, including various island populations, are resident.

Behaviour

Kentish plovers are ground-nesting birds with a flexible breeding system that includes monogamous and polygamous pairings. They exhibit territorial behavior, with males attracting females through courtship displays. Parents may move chicks to improve survival chances, balancing the risks and benefits of such movements.

Song & Calls

The alarm call, or "kittup," is frequently heard and may be followed by a "too-eet" sound. The threat note is a distinctive "twanging, metallic, dwee-dwee-dweedweedwee."

Breeding

Breeding pairs may reunite or change mates between or within seasons. The courtship displays and breeding season length vary among populations. Kentish plovers can replace failed clutches and parent multiple broods due to mate changes and extra-pair copulations.

Similar Species

The Kentish plover can be confused with other plovers, but its unique breeding plumage and habitat preferences help distinguish it.

Diet and Feeding

Kentish plovers forage for a variety of invertebrates, including insects, molluscs, crustaceans, and worms. They employ a run-and-stop method to feed, and their foraging success is influenced by environmental factors such as light and weather conditions.

Conservation status

The Kentish plover is classified as Least Concern due to its extensive range. However, populations are declining due to habitat loss, human disturbance, predation, and climate change. Conservation efforts focus on habitat protection and minimizing human interference.

Kentish Plover Sounds



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