Charadrius pecuarius Temminck, 1823; Cape of Good Hope. Monotypic.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Kittlitz’s sandplover; French: Pluvier patre, Pluvier de Kittlitz; German: Hirtenregenpfeifer; Spanish: Chorlitejo Pecuario.
5.25–6.5 in (13–16 cm); 0.67–1.7 oz (19–48 g). Characterized by a white forehead delineated by a black frontal bar and black line from bill to eye, which continues around the back and side of the neck. Crown brown with sandy edges on the feathers. Except for frontal bar, crown does not meet black markings, leaving a white ring around sides and back of crown. Upper dark brown with sandy feather edgings. Flight feathers blackish. Bill black, legs black to greenish gray. Sexes similar but black frontal bar less extensive and lighter in females. In juveniles the head color is buff and brown instead of black and white.
Africa and Madagascar.
Flat, exposed areas, including sand banks, mud banks, and dry veld. Frequently found far from water, rarely on sandy or rocky seashores.
Usually in pairs, but in winter found in small flocks (usually around 20 birds), but one flock of 270 reported. Often flocks with wintering Calidris species. Concentration of birds during non-breeding season are partially a result of receding water levels. They are gregarious even in the breeding season. May roost in mixed flocks or separately. Usually resident, but some populations undergo poorly understood seasonal movements.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Often feeds in groups of two to five birds. As is typical of plovers, it runs, stops, pecks, then runs on. It often pats its foot on foraging surface. Commonly feeds on moonlit nights.
Somewhat gregarious in breeding season, sometimes nesting in semi-colonial groups (nests as close as 26 ft [8 m] but usually at least 59 ft [18 m] apart). Nest sites include sandy areas, sandy patches in open grassland, dry mud, and even droppings of cattle or horses. During copulation the male reportedly grabs the female’s neck with his bill and falls onto his back, pulling the female with him so she ends up on top with her legs in the air. Two eggs are laid, and both sexes incubate and care for the young. When leaving the nest unattended in the middle of the day, or when disturbed, incubating bird quickly kicks sand over the eggs or newly hatched chicks. May stand over eggs and/or use belly soaking to cool eggs. Reportedly moves eggs up to 12 in (30 cm) in response to nest flooding. Incubation requires about 25 days, and chicks fledge at about 30 days, although brooding 42-day-old captive chicks have been observed. Both adults give injury-feigning distraction displays and false brooding when nest or young are threatened. One pair initiated a second nest while caring for previous brood.
Common over much of the open habitat of Africa. Flooding is major cause of egg and chick loss, but predation and motor vehicles are also concerns.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
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