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The Zoo has one Egyptian plover, a male who was hand-raised at Toledo Zoological Gardens. He was hatched on May 9, 2008 and arrived at the Philadelphia Zoo on February 12, 2009. He is in the African savanna exhibit.
Come and see me at the new African Savanna exhibit in the McNeil Avian Center.
McNeil Avian Center
This is a distinctive looking small shorebird that resides in sandy areas near riverbeds. Unlike many ground nesting shorebirds that are more cryptically colored to blend in when sitting on a nest, the Egyptian plover has very bold patterns of black, white, grey and tawny feathers. Their plumage pattern makes them easy to identify. Although sociable outside the breeding season, pairs are very territorial during breeding. Pairs will aggressively defend the nest from intruders.
Unknown in the wild, can exceed 10 years in captivity.
Sometimes called a “crocodile bird,” there is a story dating back to the 5th century BC of the Egyptian plover picking food from the teeth of gaping crocodiles. Although popular, this story remains unconfirmed.
The Egyptian plover has an unusual nesting habit where it will cover the eggs with sand whenever it leaves the nest. This may help to conceal the eggs from predators and may also help to regulate the temperature of the eggs. On hot days, the parents will sit in water to soak their feathers and use these wet feathers to keep eggs or chicks cool in the nest. The chicks leave the nest only a day after hatching but do not become independent of the parents until about 30 days of age. Both male and female incubate the eggs.
Stands 7 to 8 inches tall.
Weighs 2 to 3 oz.
At the Zoo, the birds are offered a base diet of commercial carnivore diet mixed with soaked dog food. The enrichment portion of the diet includes a variety of insects.
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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