Tuesday, March 15, 2011
On the difficulties of breeding on a beach
The population of Kentish plovers, a small European wader, is declining throughout its breeding range. As is the case with all disappearing species, the causes are habitat loss, predation, hunting, and in the case of this little guy, disturbance. The Kentish plover, Charadrius alexandrinus, makes its nest in a small depression on sandy beaches by the sea or by inland lakes or estuaries. Both sexes brood the eggs and attend to the chicks. However, not many of the young make it into adulthood. Being trampled by people or predated by dogs, foxes, or crows is a serious problem for this small bird. Conservation measures include fencing the areas where they breed, providing small cages to protect the nest, moving the eggs to a safer place. In the US, there's a very similar American subspecies, the Snowy plover. It, too, faces the same threats as its European cousin.