The Spur winged plover

 

 

A pair of plovers have set up house in one of our paddocks. The nest is a hollow in the ground and lined with dry grass.

Ngaire Deed – ngaire@thepost.nz

There were three eggs, dark green/brown speckled with black/ brown spots and about the size of a size five hen’s egg, in the nest. They are now fluffy spotted chicks that are extremely hard to see in the grass.
The plover usually does not stray more than a four to five kilometer radius. They can live up to 13 years, and mate for life, so we will have our family around for a while.
Many nests fail because of stock damage. This nest was at the top of a hill and the stock is not in that paddock at present so the chicks should be OK. They fledge at about eight weeks, but they stay as a family unit for around eight months.
The adult birds are about the size of a magpie, handsome with a white breast and belly, blackhead and brown back. Their ‘faces’ and bill are bright yellow. They have small spurs at the elbows of their wings. They are very noisy and screech loudly when disturbed.
They protect their young vigorously and can be seen attacking harrier hawks in flight.
The plover originally arrived in New Zealand from Australia and settled in Southland about 1932. From there they have slowly spread north. The first breeding pair were recorded in the lower North Island in 1973. By 1980 they were well established in the southern and eastern parts of the North Island.
As adult birds establish their own territory they have been moving northwards and are now fairly common throughout New Zealand.
The pair at home have been around for some time and are well settled. The bird that is not incubating feeds close by and sounds the alarm if anyone or anything ventures in the direction of the nest.
The incubating bird takes flight and both birds fly around making one heck of a noise. The new family could create a few battles with the harriers that nest in the bush which is adjacent to their nest site.
It could be a very noisy few weeks until the chicks can take care of themselves.

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