Egyptian Plover
- Photos by Susan Fleck
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(Wikipedia) The Egyptian plover, also known as the crocodile bird, is a localized resident in tropical sub-Saharan Africa. It breeds on sandbars in very large rivers. This usually very tame bird is found in pairs or small groups near water. It feeds by pecking for insects. Its two or three eggs are not incubated, but are buried in warm sand, temperature control being achieved by the adult sitting on the eggs with a water-soaked belly to cool them. If the adult leaves the nest, it smoothes sand over the eggs, though if it is frightened the job may be hasty. The chicks are precocial, and can run as soon as they are hatched and feed themselves shortly afterwards. The adults bury the chicks in the sand temporarily if danger threatens.
The bird is sometimes referred to as the crocodile bird for its alleged symbiotic relationship with crocodiles. According to Herodotus, the crocodiles lie on the shore with their mouths open, and a bird called "trochilus" flies into the crocodiles' mouths so as to feed on decaying meat lodged between the crocodiles' teeth. The identification of the trochilus with any particular plover is doubtful, as is the cleaning symbiosis itself; no known photographic evidence exists, and the written accounts are considered suspect by the biologist Thomas Howell.








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