Shore plover (Thinornis novaeseelandiae)

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Male shore plover
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Shore plover fact file

Shore plover description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderCharadriiformes
FamilyCharadriidae
GenusThinornis (1)

This small, stocky wader is one of the world's most threatened coastal birds (2). The forehead, sides of face, throat and collar are black in males and brown in females and both sexes have a white band around the forehead (3). The crown and upper body are a dark grey-brown colour in both sexes and the underparts are white (3). The short, orange-red bill tapers to a dark tip (4) and the legs are orange (3).

Size
Length: 20 cm (2)
Weight
60 g (2)
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Shore plover biology

During the breeding season from November to February (4), monogamous pairs will defend small territories containing their nest (2). The nests of the shore plover are well hidden amongst vegetation or between boulders (2), and both the male and female will take part in incubating the two to three eggs that are laid (4).

Outside of the breeding season birds flock together but do not migrate (2). Their diet is made up of shoreline crustaceans, spiders, molluscs and insects, which are foraged from the sea-shore at low tide (2).

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Shore plover range

The shore plover is endemic to New Zealand and once widespread on coastal areas of South Island and the Chatham Islands. Rangatira (South East) Island was thought to be the only known location of the species since the 1930s (2), until an additional population was discovered in 1999 on a small island/reef also within the Chatham group (5). It is likely that the two populations have been separate for over 100 years (5).

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Shore plover habitat

The shore plover inhabits coastal rock platforms and salt marshland (2).

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Shore plover status

The shore plover is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered

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Shore plover threats

Predation by introduced cats and rats caused the original precipitous decline of shore plover numbers from mainland coasts and from the other Chatham Islands (3). The population on Rangatira Island was itself decimated by human collectors who took hundreds of specimens for scientific purposes at the beginning of the 20th Century (2). Today the shore plover is extremely vulnerable as the species is mainly restricted to a single island; the accidental introduction of predators or a natural disaster has the potential to completely wipe out this species (2). However, the discovery in 1999 of a second small population, and progress with the establishment of new populations in the Chathams and mainland New Zealand, does provide slightly more stability for the species (5).

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Shore plover conservation

Conservation efforts to save the shore plover represent one of the first cases worldwide to establish new populations of a strong-flying shorebird (3). Rangatira Nature Reserve was established in 1954 (6), but the key to the survival of this species will be the creation of independent populations elsewhere. Relocations to other predator-free islands in the Chatham group initially failed due to these birds' strong homing instincts; individuals returned to Rangatira Island (6). A captive population is being held at the National Wildlife Centre at Mount Bruce and this provides birds for translocations to island locations off mainland New Zealand (4). Recent transfers to Mangere Nature Reserve (Mangere Island is also within the Chatham group) have been more successful; between 2001 and 2002, 28 birds were relocated (5). As of September 2002, 11 birds were present on Mangere Island and one chick had fledged successfully (5). The population of shore plovers on Rangatira Island is only around 123 birds (5), but sustained conservation efforts continue to produce encouraging results for the future of this attractive bird.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For more information on the shore plover see:

  • BirdLife International - Shore plover:
    www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=3145&m=0
  • BirdLife International (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge.
  • Aikman, H., Davis, A., Miskelly, C., O'Connor, S. and Taylor, G. (2001) New Zealand shore plover recovery plan 2001-2011. Threatened Species Recovery Plan 44. Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Bell, D. and Bell, M. (2000) Discovery of a second natural wild population of the New Zealand shore plover (Thinornis novaeseelandiae) shore note. Notornis, 47 (3).
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Authentication

Authenticated (7/11/02) by Hilary Aikman. New Zealand Department of Conservation.
http://www.doc.govt.nz

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Glossary

Crustaceans
Diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (parts of the mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, slaters, woodlice and barnacles.
Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Molluscs
A diverse group of invertebrates, mainly marine, that have one or all of the following; a horny, toothed ribbon in the mouth (the radula), a shell covering the upper surface of the body, and a mantle or mantle cavity with a type of gill. Includes snails, slugs, shellfish, octopuses and squid.
Monogamous
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
Territories
Areas occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.
Translocations
The transfer of individuals of living organisms from one area with release or planting in another.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. WCMC Species Sheets (March, 2008)
    http://www.unep-wcmc.org/species/data/species_sheets/shoreplo.htm
  3. BirdLife International. (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge.
  4. Mount Bruce (March, 2008)
    http://www.mtbruce.org.nz/shore_plover_more.htm
  5. Aikman, H. (2002) Pers. comm.
  6. Endangered creatures.net (May, 2002)
    http://64.177.68.18/endangeredsp3/AustraliaB13.html
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Image credit

Male shore plover  
Male shore plover

© Mike Thorsen

Mike Thorsen
Otago Conservancy
P.O. Box 5244
77 Stuart Street
Dunedin
New Zealand
Tel: +64 (0) 3477 0677
mthorsen@doc.govt.nz
http://www.doc.govt.nz

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