Honey, I shrunk the bird!
He’s small. Very small. But, size apart, there’s nothing little about this plover. This low flying sentinel of the wetlands is a lot of bird in a small frame, with a large bag of tricks up his sleeve. Consider, for starters, the patented ‘Broken Wing Feint’. When danger threatens his nest, he pretends to have a broken wing and drags himself slowly away from the nest with the predator following, ready to pounce, and at the last moment the ‘broken’ wing miraculously heals and our avian Houdini flies away leaving the startled poacher clutching at straws, rather than a plump little plover. He’s a real miser and artfully employs an unpaid ‘External Security Agency’ by the sneaky method of building nests near aggressive shorebirds whose presence keeps predators at bay. But when such services are unavailable, he uses the free ‘Dial-an-Assistant’ service to get an extra plover to help out with nest duties. Perhaps a case of ‘two’s company; three’s security’. When it comes to wooing a woman, you and I could be excused for having butterflies in the stomach, but our intrepid hero has them in his mating dance by using a ‘Butterfly Routine’ of circling endlessly with slow wing-beats, till she says, ‘I Do!’ Next in his repertoire, is the trademarked ‘Foot Trembling’ technique, which entails standing on one foot, whilst rapidly vibrating the other, to drive out small, hidden prey, for a quick, on-shore snack. Now, we’ve all heard about a bird’s eye view, but the Little Ringed Plover allows us an insight into a bird’s I Q. So the next time someone disparagingly calls you ‘bird brained’, you could politely suggest they go and see a shrink.
We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.