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Courting spur-winged plovers - Vanellus miles novaehollandiae | by Steve Attwood
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Courting spur-winged plovers - Vanellus miles novaehollandiae

This pair, at Travis wetland in Christchurch, were performing an elaborate courtship comprising of much walking around mimicking each other's movements and dancing around each other interspersed with the occasional foot to foot grapple.


Self introduced from Australia to Southland in the 1930’s the Spur-winged Plover is now found throughout New Zealand in open country pastures, wetland margins and estuaries.

This noisy large plover has a black crown, hind neck and shoulders in front of the bend of the wing. The back and wings are brown with a dark trailing edge to the wings, the rump is white and the tail is tipped black. The under parts are white and the legs and feet are reddish. The bill is yellow and the bird has a yellow facial patch and prominent wattles. The call is a loud staccato rattle ‘kerr-kick-ki-ki-ki’.

The eat earthworms and insects and their larvae, crustaceans and molluscs and also seeds and leaves.

Breeding is between June and late November with the peak in August. Several clutches are laid each year. The nest is a scrape in the ground, unlined or scantily lined situated in rough open pasture, a flat wet area or on stony ground. The clutch of 1 – 4 khaki eggs with brownish, black blotches is incubated by both sexes for 30 31 days. The fledging period is 7 – 8 weeks.


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Taken on September 16, 2012