Kentish plover   Charadrius alexandrinus


  • Charadrius : Greek word kharadrios for unknown plain-coloured nocturnal bird that dwelt in ravines and river valleys.
  • Alexandrinus : From Alexandria in Egypt

Vernacular Names : Pun: Kalarwala marwa, Guj: Dhongili, Bhulamani dhongili, Mar: Kentish chikhlya, Ta: Chinna mandai ullan, Chinna kottan, Uppu kotthi, Mal: Manal kozhi, Sinh: Punchi oleyiya

Distribution in India: Resident in Gujrat. Winter visitor in coastal region and the Gangetic plain of India.

Description:  Size of 15-17 cm. During the breeding season, males have a black horizontal head bar, two incomplete dark breast-bands on each side of their breast, black ear coverts and a rufous nape and crown, whereas the females are paler in these areas, without the dark markings. In the early breeding season, it is easy to distinguish between males and females since the ornaments are very pronounced, but as the breeding season progresses, the differences between the two sexes decrease. Males have longer tarsi and longer flank feathers than females. Longer flank feathers are thought to be an advantage for incubation and brood care, as the quality of feathers is associated with heat insulation. Non breeding plumage has Grey upper parts and the breast band becomes grey too, the rufous on its head replaced by grey and black ear coverts become grey too.

Habitat: It is found in sea coasts, but also open flats near brackish or saline lakes, lagoons, seasonal water courses, salt-works and depressions. Usually on sand, silt or dry mud with even surface, avoiding rocky or broken ground. Quickly invades newly created suitable habitats, such as gravel pits and reservoirs

Food Habits:  It eats mainly insects and their larvae, such as beetles and other invertebrates; occasionally some grass seeds and stems. In winter, eats marine worms, molluscs and crustaceans; occasional insects, such as grasshoppers and beetles, and earthworms. Probes in wet sand and mud and frequently feeds by foot-trembling.

Breeding Habits: They breed in April-June in NW Europe and NW Africa. They are monogamous over several years; polyandry and polygyny may occur if a parent deserts early in season, or if a parent hatches young or loses brood early. Nest often near water on bare or scantly vegetated ground. Nest is a shallow scrape lined with small pebbles, shell fragments and vegetation. They lay a clutch of 2-4 eggs, with females usually deserting their first broods. The replacement broods may be laid after egg loss. They reuse same scrape. The incubation period is 23–29 days, by both parents (female by day, male by night) starting with last egg; in some areas, eggs often partly buried in sand before adult leaves nest, probably for protection against sun. One parent, often female, deserts brood 6 days after hatching; fledging period is 27–31 days; young independent sometime after fledging. Breeding success enhanced by associative breeding with more demonstrative and aggressive species