Egyptian Plover (Pluvianus aegyptius)

Egyptian Plover

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Pluvianidae | [latin] Pluvianus aegyptius | [UK] Egyptian Plover | [FR] Pluvian fluviatile | [DE] Krokodilwachter | [ES] | [NL] Krokodilwachter


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Rostratula aegyptius
Pluvianus aegyptius
Pluvianus aegyptius AF ne, c, w

Physical charateristics

Egyptian Plover is a striking and unmistakable species. The 19-21 cm long adult has a black crown, back, eye-mask and breast band. The rest of the head is white. The remaining upperpart plumage is blue-grey, and the underparts are orange. The longish legs are blue-grey.

In flight, it is even more spectacular, with the black crown and back contrasting with the grey of the upperparts and wings. The flight feathers are brilliant white crossed by a black bar. From below, the flying bird is entirely white, apart from the orange belly and black wing bar. After landing, members of a pair greet each other by raising their wings in an elaborate ceremony that shows off the black and white markings. The sexes are similar, but juveniles are duller and the black marking are intermixed with brown.

wingspan min.: 23 cm wingspan max.: 25 cm
size min.: 19 cm size max.: 21 cm
incubation min.: 28 days incubation max.: 31 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 31 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


Africa : Northeast, Central, West


The species inhabits the middle stretches of large lowland tropical rivers with bars of sand and gravel (which it uses for nesting). It often occurs around human settlements near rivers and may occasionally use other wetland habitats (e.g. lakes or ponds) and be found away from water when not breeding or when rivers are in spate. It generally avoids heavily forested areas and estuarine waters however.


The nest is a deep scrape1 where the eggs are incubated by being buried in warm sand on an exposed sandbank in a riverbed.
Breeds mostly in dry season when river levels low. Lays two to three eggs in deep scrape in sand, incubating eggs in partly buried position for 28-31 days. Eggs may be wetted with soaked belly plumage in hot weather. Chicks leave nest as soon as hatched, but may be buried in sand by parents when disturbed; parents may wet sand over chicks in the heat of the day. Young fly when about five weeks old.

Feeding habits

Its diet consists predominantly of insects (adult and larval aquatic and terrestrial forms but especially small flies) as well as worms, molluscs and seeds.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Egyptian Plover status Least Concern


This species is largely sedentary but does undertake local irregular nomadic movements in response to changes in riverine water levels. North of the equator the species breeds from January to April or May when the water levels in rivers are the lowest (the timing of breeding has not been recorded in the southern parts of species’s range). It breeds in solitary pairs and is usually observed in pairs or small groups when not breeding, often migrating in flocks of up to 60 individuals.
(Del Hoyo :Local movements in response to changes of water levels are common, but longer distance migration also recorded from Ethiopia to Sudan (600-800 km) and in Nigeria and Chad where birds make irregular northward movements during wet season, May-Oct, when rivers flood; similarly, no records in Sierra Leon from Jun to late Nov. Moves in flocks of up to 60 birds. During floods, birds may appear in unexpected habitats. Vagrant to Canary Is, Libya, Israel. Bird recorded in Poland in Oct-Nov 1991 presumed escape.

Distribution map

Egyptian Plover distribution range map

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