Jun 27 2011
Plovers nest on the ground and, during nesting season, will often terrorise anyone trying to walk through a park, an oval or even crossing the medium strip of a road. If any of you have had the misfortune of being attacked by the Spur Winged Plover, their attack calls are something you never forget. For the last 16 years, Spur Winged Plovers have been nesting in our paddock. Each year, a pair nest within 10 metres of the year before. The image below shows the current nest about 3 metres from the bedroom window. In the night, their protective calls are the things nightmares grow from.
I found this photo on Wiki that clearly shows the spur on the leading edge of the wing. Being hit by the spur causes severe pain and the blood to flow quite freely.
They attack with a coordinated effort. One bird will fly up and swoop in from the front and the other, having circled around, will come in at 90 degrees to the first. They both arrive on target within a second of each other and from two directions. One calling, to distract you, and the other often silent.
In flying, pilots perform what is called a procedure turn. Fly away from an object, turn 90 degrees (in either direction) reverse the turn and continue for 270 degrees to come back at the object. Plovers have mastered this manouvre with ease. I’ve watched this happen time after time. Attack, swoop past, turn, reverse, attack. What a fantastic bird.