Charadriidae


Description

This is a one of many families of birds popularly known as waders or shorebirds. Most of these families, like this one, are cosmopolitan, and many of its members are migratory, breeding in the Arctic Circle during the brief summer (June-July) when there is continuous daylight to feed, before migrating south to spend the remainder of the year in the tropics or Southern Hemisphere. Migratory shorebirds visiting Java mainly breed in remote eastern Siberia or northern China. By August many of these birds leave their remote nesting grounds and begin the amazing journey to their non-breeding grounds as far away as southern Australia, 14,000 kilometres, following the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

The plovers are a relatively uniform group of small to medium sized waders with large eyes, longish legs and a shortish, straight bill with a slightly bulbous tip. Their tails are short and their wings slender and pointed. Plovers are instantly recognizable by their almost mechanical, “stop-start” manner of locomotion when foraging, consisting of a short burst of running, followed by a pause of similar duration, during which the bird quickly dips its head to pick up prey from the ground, or watches for movements a few metres ahead with head held high.  Their prey lives just below the surface of the mud or ground, and mainly comprises worms and either insect larvae or crabs and other small crustaceans. Although plovers are visual hunters, some species enhance their prey capture rate by making tapping or trembling movements with one of their feet, actions that stimulate prey to move to the surface.

Ten members of this family have been recorded on Java. Almost all are migrants from the Northern Hemisphere but one is resident (Javan Plover), and another is probably a vagrant visitor from Australia or eastern Indonesia. Java was also once home to a rather large, endemic species of plover: the Javan Lapwing Vanellus macropterus. This very distinctive, blackish bird formerly inhabited marshes and river deltas on the northwest and southeast coast of the island, but as there have been no positive sightings of it since 1940, it seems likely that it is now extinct. The principal cause of its demise was probably extensive conversion of its habitat to aquaculture and agricultural land.

Flight

Fast, most of them with deep wingbeats. Pointed wings. Some of species do glids before landing.

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