White-fronted Plover

Charadrius marginatus

Usually seen in pairs or small flocks, the White-fronted Plover is a small (50g, wingspan 40cm) wading bird inhabiting mudflats, sandy beaches, and the shorelines of estuaries, large lakes and rivers, where it feeds on worms, snails, insects and crustaceans.

White-fronted Plovers nest in shallow scrapes in the sand, often quite exposed and usually far above the high-water mark. Pairs are monogamous and often stay together, in the same area, for many years. Nesting has been recorded throughout the year, but there is a definite peak in the spring and summer. Clutches consist of 1-3 eggs and are incubated by both parents for around a month. When threatened at the nest, the parents will cover the eggs with sand before fleeing. The precocious chicks feed themselves from birth and fledge when they are about 6 weeks old.

In South Africa, White-fronted Plovers occur all along the coast and along the rivers of the Lowveld. North of our borders, and south of the Sahara, the White-fronted Plover occurs along the Atlantic and Indian Ocean coastlines as well as most of the larger inland wetlands and rivers. While loss of habitat is causing the population of this species, currently estimated at around 100,000 birds, to decline, the IUCN considers it to be of Least Concern.

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