IUCN threat status:

Near Threatened (NT)

Brief Summary

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Biology

A gregarious species, the mountain plover can often be found in loose flocks of up to several hundred birds, especially in winter (2). It forages in grassland habitat or recently cultivated fields for insects. Grasshoppers are one of the primary prey items, but their diet also includes crickets, beetles and flies (2). Like other plovers, this species searches for food in a typically jerky stop-start fashion, running a few steps, stopping abruptly, and them probing the mud with its bill (4). From early November, the mountain plover is found on its warmer wintering grounds, then in mid-March, the plover migrates north-east, probably on a non-stop flight, to its breeding grounds (2). The mountain plover has a variable breeding system and may be monogamous (one male and one female pair during a breeding season), polyandrous (one female and several males) or polygynous (one male and a number of females). The breeding season extends from late April until July (2), beginning with the females excavating small depressions between clumps of grass where they lay three well camouflaged eggs (7). The male will then start incubating this nest, while the female goes to lay another clutch of three eggs in a second nest. The female may then incubate this clutch herself or, if polyandrous, a second male will carry out incubation leaving the female to lay a third clutch (2). Incubation is carried out for 28 to 31 days and the chicks fledge in 33 to 36 days. Laying a number of clutches in different nests is a clever behavioural adaptation, to compensate for the fact that only 20 to 65 percent of nests are successful due to predation, storms and trampling by cattle (2). This is despite attempts by the small mountain plover to protect its nest from trampling by flying up in the face of approaching cattle (7).

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Source: ARKive

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