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Pluvianidae – Egyptian Plover

Egyptian Plover in Senegal: Photo by Luke Seitz

The Egyptian Plover, or Crocodile Bird, is a strikingly beautiful bird found along rivers in sub-Saharan Africa. With its bold black and white plumage and bright orange legs, it is an unmistakable sight on sandy riverbanks. Known for its unique relationship with crocodiles, it feeds on parasites and debris from their teeth, though this behavior has not been scientifically confirmed. The Egyptian Plover’s elegant appearance and intriguing habits make it a fascinating species to observe.

Overview of Pluvianidae

The Egyptian Plover, despite its name, is not a true plover and is no longer found in Egypt. Instead, it is widespread along large rivers in central Africa, where it feeds on invertebrates along the shore. Although the species is known as the “Crocodile Bird,” it does not, in fact, pick food from the mouths of crocodiles. Egyptian Plovers dig deep scrapes on sandbars to lay their eggs, partially burying them to shield them from the tropical sun. The parents use water-soaked belly feathers to cool the sand and the eggs, while chicks can also be cooled or protected by being partially buried in sand or covered by the parent’s wet feathers.