Charadrius pecuarius (Kittlitz's plover) 

Geelborsstrandkiewiet [Afrikaans]; Herdersplevier [Dutch]; Pluvier pātre [French]; Hirtenregenpfeifer [German]; Borrelho-do-gado [Portuguese]

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Charadrius pecuarius (Kittlitz's plover) Charadrius pecuarius (Kittlitz's plover)

Kittlitz's plover. [photo Stephen Davis ©]

Kittlitz's plover, West Coast National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in Madagascar and sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia south to southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is locally common across much of the region, largely excluding south-central Botswana and the outer areas of Namibia, generally preferring open dry mudflats with short grass, usually close to water. It also occupies estuaries, natural pans, salt-marshes, flood plains and commercial salt pans, occasionally moving to airfields, golf courses, overgrazed pastures and ploughed fields.

Distribution of Kittlitz's plover in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

A chick was once recorded as prey of a Blacksmith plover.

Movements and migrations

Mainly nomadic and migratory, moving in response to rainfall, as for example it travels south-west from Zimbabwe and northern Botswana to Namibia, southern Botswana and South Africa, staying from November-July all the while moving nomadically.


It mainly eats small invertebrates, especially beetles, foraging by day and night using the typical run-stop-search technique of plover. While foraging it is aggressive towards other Kittlitz's plovers as well as other species with a similar diet, such as Common ringed plover and Curlew sandpiper.


  • Monogamous, territorial and usually a solitary nester, occasionally breeding in loose groups.
  • The nest is a simple scrape in bare ground, either bare or lined with pebbles, fragments of vegetation, mud, grass, shell pieces and animal dung. It is typically placed in coarse sand or dry mud, sometimes raised on a mound.
Charadrius pecuarius (Kittlitz's plover)  

Kittlitz's plover at its nest, Wakkerstroom, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is year-round, peaking from October-January in the Western Cape, June-November elsewhere in South Africa and from July-October in Botswana and Zimbabwe.
  • It lays 1-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 22-28 days, with the female taking the day shift while the male incubates at night.
  • The chicks leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching, and are brooded for about a third of daytime, a practice which ceases once after about six weeks, although they fledge at about 25-32 days old.


Not threatened, in fact its range and abundance in southern Africa have increased due to the construction of artificial water bodies.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 




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