Oliver records that this bird was formerly moderately plentiful in many parts of the North, South and Chatham Islands but it succumbed to the conditions of settlement on the main islands, where it seems to have disapeared completly by 1880.
On the mainland Potts stated that the shore plover inhabited sandy beaches especially near the mouths of rivers but on South East Island in the Chatham Group there are no sandy beaches and the birds are found frequenting the turf-like halophytic vegetation and the luxuriant herbaceous growth in the bays between the rocky headlands. The birds feed in the salt and brackish pools which abound with small crustacea.
Oliver also records the breeding habits of the shore plover on South East Island. “Nest sites are remarkable for their diversity in all but one feature. With one exception, all the seventeen nests examined were in some way sheltered from above and entered from the sides. The most frequent nest sites werre crevices under piles of bouylders near the shoreline and crannies under larger rock masses resting on grassy ground above the beach. Several nests were found eighteen inches down deserted burrows of mutton birds, while other sites included a hollow log; a small tunnel in thick bidibidi, Acaena, and the space under the buttress roots of a shrub.” The nest, he says, is comparatively complicated for a wading bird, a circlet of interwoven dried roots and grass, forming quite a bulky structure if the adjacent soil is perpetually moist, but more scanty on well drained terrain. We found about equal numbers of clutches of two and of three eggs. Usually the female was on the nest. At times of extreme excitement odd birds would perform the ‘broken wing’ act. When first hatched the downy chicks are helpless but only for a few hours.
Other common names: —
New Zealand plover, sand plover.
20 cm., 60 g., white ring around neck separating the brown nape from the back, white underparts. Breeding adult has black breast band, eye patch, forecrown and line from eye to bill. Short stubby bill orange tipped with black, orange legs.
Where to find: —
Rangatira (South East) Island and Western Reef in the Chathams group.
Illustration description: —
Latham, John, General Synopsis of Birds, 1795.
Heather, B., & Robertson, H., Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, 2000.
Oliver, W.R.B., New Zealand Birds, 1955.
Page date & version: —
Wednesday, 4 June 2014; ver2009v1