Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Crab plover

Dromas ardeola

Photo by Tarique Sani (Encyclopedia of Life)

Common name:
crab plover (en); caranguejeiro (pt); drome ardéole (fr)chorlito cangrejero (es); reiherläufer (de)

Order Charadriiformes
Family Dromadidae

This species breeds on the coasts and islands of Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Eritrea, Oman, Abu Dhabi and Iran. They winter along the coasts of the India Ocean, as far south as South Africa and as far east as India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

These birds are 33-41 cm long and have a wingspan of 66-78 cm. They weigh 230-330 g.

Crab plovers are found in large intertidal flats with firm substratum, estuaries, lagoons, exposed coral reefs and sometimes also in rocky shorelines.

They mainly feed on crabs, but also other crustaceans, polychaetes, bivalves, small molluscs and other intertidal invertebrates.

Crab plovers breed in April-August. They form large breeding colonies and each pair nests in an unlined chamber at the end of a deep burrow excavated into the sandy substrate of an island or extensive coastal dune system, where the female lays 1-2 eggs. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 32-33 days, but they leave the eggs unattended for long times as the nest burrow and the intense solar radiation allows egg development at near-optimal temperature. Unlike in other waders, the chicks remain in the nest for several days, being fed by both parents, and even after fledging they continue to receive parental care for a long period.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 60.000-80.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats, but the risk of oil spills within their breeding range and the potential introduction of nest predators onto breeding islands may cause problems in the future.

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