There really is nothing like it. Literally.
It’s delicate, but with streamlined contours, elegantly marked with broad bands of black, highlighted with bright white stripes, sporting Gainsboro grey wings, and a rich peachy wash through the underparts. The Egyptian Plover is but one entry on the staggering triplist for our superb Ghana Comprehensive tour, but it is a very special one.
Once known as the Crocodile-bird, this flashy ~wader was long believed the “trochilus”. Named in The Histories of Herodotus, this was a bird believed to associate with Nile Crocodiles. Herodotus wrote of the crocodile that:
“with the trochilus it lives at peace, since it owes much to that bird: for… the trochilus goes into his mouth and devours the leeches. This benefits the crocodile, who is pleased, and takes care not to hurt the trochilus.”
Such an endearing story… And though it has not survived science, it remains tough to shed for the Egyptian Plover. It is akin to the myth of Ben Franklin advocating for the Wild Turkey as the United States’ national bird; or the legend of nightjars suckling at goats (whose family name remains Caprimulgidae). Science does not adhere to the tenet that “the truth should never get in the way of a good story”. In fact, science has killed a good many, yet these stories persist. Today we know that Egyptian Plovers do not clean the teeth of Nile Crocodiles, and we also know that this myth shall not dissolve overnight. It’s too good a story.
An undeniable truth regarding the Egyptian Plover, however, is what we stated up front. There really is nothing like it. And you know this whether you’ve seen the bird or not. Just look at it. But what you may not know is that this bird’s stock is rising. Just like the Bornean Bristlehead, the Magellanic Plover, the Kagu, Przevalski’s Finch, and 30+ other species, the Egyptian Plover is the only species in its family, and thus monotypic. There is only one. Nothing else.
It is the sole member of the family Pluvianidae, and thus a major target for bird family collectors. More and more birders are zeroing in on the 250+ bird families of the world. While seeking every last species of the 10,000+ on Earth may seem like a lot to tackle, going after a member of each bird family is a more achievable goal. A few folks have even done it in a single year; albeit at a time when there were fewer families to chase.
Sadly, the Egyptian Plover is now extinct from its namesake country, but it remains resident along rivers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, and is a regular feature of our spectacular Ghana Mega tour. It is also available on our Ethiopia Mega, Cameroon, and The Gambia & Senegal offerings.
Join us today, and discover more.