Plovers – vicious pests or precious?

(Click picture to enlarge)
Plover and day old chick
Like chickens, plover chicks can walk almost as soon as they are hatched. The parents guide them well away from the nest to a safe area.
During the last month Alkira students have shared their school yard with a pair of nesting spur-winged plovers. The eggs have hatched and parents have taken their chicks away from the nesting area. The chicks feed themselves, but the parents continue to protect them and keep them warm at night. While it has been fascinating watching them guarding their eggs, fearlessly swooping at anyone who came near, it did have its inconveniences.

It has to be said that the vast majority of students have been respectful of the birds during the 28-30 day incubation period. It is a great credit to the students and teachers at Alkira that they made space for the birds even though they made some nervous, irritated others and excited yet others. Despite this, students left the birds alone to care for their eggs.

Should we be tolerant of wildlife that shares our spaces like this or should someone have gotten rid of the birds so that students and teachers were not inconvenienced by the parents alarm calls and swooping? What do you think? (Click “comments” above and have your say!)

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10 thoughts on “Plovers – vicious pests or precious?

  1. while these bireds were in the school grounds i though it was nice to see hoe they acted towards us and how they protected their young babies, but it was dangerous for us aswell.

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    • It was good to get an up close and personal view of them caring for their young Stephanie. They certainly are good parents. Having a plover fly straight at you making that rapid ‘Kuk Kuk Kuk’ call certainly is intimidating. They must have swooped at students and teachers hundreds of times during the four weeks they had the eggs, yet not once did they strike anyone. This is because it is a bluff strategy aimed at scaring an intruder away. Threatening gestures or behaviours give you a perception that you might get injured. That’s how it works – and it works very well. Lots of animals use strategies designed to intimidate intruders without any intention of injuring. Even cats will warn you by hissing or dogs by growling. They usually only bite if you ignore the warnings. People do this too. They raise their voices, lean in towards the person they are trying to intimidate, shout, shake their fist, widen their eyes, and stare menacingly and so on. Think too about what would happen to the plover if it crashed into someone in a top speed dive. They don’t want to injure themselves.

      SO there were hundreds of swooping dives but not one contact. They used other strategies to protect their eggs as well. Did you notice how they also tried to draw potential predators away from the nest by feigning injury?

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  2. I think we should have taken their eggs and put them in the park so we wouldn’t have to put up with them making noises while we were walking from class to class. all the girls were terrified of the birds. The birds were swooping every one and they also tried to bite people. it is good that they are gone and now we can walk freely through our agora. it is nice to be able to walk freely with out being swooped by by some birds.

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  3. i think we should of moved the eggs in a safer, move quiet enviroment so they wouldnt feel tormented therefore they wouldnt hvae the need to swoop people and scare most drama queen girls. when they first arrived it was distracting because most people would look outside and watch them fly around and swoop people and when it was lunch or snack you couldnt use the igora so it there would be more people or the same place. now that they have gone we can use what is ours for activities and relaxing without having the trouble or noise from the squawking birds.

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    • It was inconvenient for a while Michael that is true. Unfortunately you can’t reason with birds and animals like you can with people. You can’t tell them that you have moved their eggs to a place that you consider to be safer for them. They won’t move to another place and start sitting on their eggs there. So moving the eggs is not an option. There are only two choices – let them raise their young as we chose or destroy the eggs (which is the same as moving them as the parents would abandon them).

      Something that many people do not realise is that plovers are a protected species and that interfering with them or their eggs is illegal. (see Wildlife Victoria FAQs Question Is Wildlife Protected by the Law?) So we did the right and only thing we could do in leaving them to raise their young. As for the “drama queen girls” as you mention, I did notice quite a few boys run the other way when swooped as well! In the end the issues came down to, for us, some inconvenience for four weeks until they were gone, or for them, the much more serious issue of life or death for their young.

      I for one am glad we chose to let them raise their young and I feel quite proud of all Alkira students, who let them raise their young despite some minor inconvenience. It says a lot about the character of the students and teachers. 🙂

      It is good also to reflect on the fact that plovers have been nesting in the area of our school for thousands of years and it is us who have built right over their territory. They are bound to be confused about where to nest. When it comes to people versus plovers, or any animal or bird for that matter, it is the animals that almost always come out the losers. That is the sad fact of it. This time though, there was a little win for wildlife thanks to the students of Alkira!

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  4. I believe we should have got some sort of bird Removal Company to safely remove the plovers to somewhere else where they won’t be a pest to others. This is because while the birds were there it was very hard for us to walk across without the feeling of being swooped. Some people may have even been hurt if the bird successfully swooped and some people could of even had a phobia of birds or extreme fear, this would of made it very unfair and difficult for them to have to walk across something which is compulsory to get to class.

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    • In the last school I was in Harin, a group of boys felt a pair of plovers nesting in the grounds were a pest. Unlike Alkira students who put up with the inconvenience for 4 weeks until the young hatched, these boys came into the school after hours and went to the nest area with bats. They waited until one of the parent birds swooped. When it did they struck it down and then beat the injured bird to death. They then waited until the other adult came to the aid of its mate and beat it to death as well. Without their parents chicks died. THese students felt they had done something heroic. I had a very different opinion of them, as did most students.

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  5. I think that it is very unfair to the students that get educated at Alkira as some of the students were very nervous about walking on the path near the birds eggs as some people were close to getting swooped and this was a danger to all students that walked near them if they successfully swooped the school would have injured students. I think that the school should of done something about this maybe something like getting a wildlife centre to take them in to a safe place until the birds are hatched.

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  6. I think this is not that bad. People are saying its unfair but you could just walk around. I think the birds are a bit stupid to lay thier eggs on the ground but they do it naturally so we have to deal with it. I bet there were plovers laying eggs on Alkira grounds before Alkira was built. I didn’t think they weren’t that scary. Its not like they had hit anyone so why be afraid. All it looks like they are trying to do is intimidate you.

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  7. Eventhough it was a bit dangerous, they are just like us. If they are trying to protect their kind, the swooping thoughts wouldn’t even cross my mind. It was good to see how the birds reacted when they were in our school. It was a good experience and i’m pretty sure we all respected them and gave them their privacy.

    Question:

    Why didn’t the owls in our school scare the birds away? I thought if the birds saw the owls they would pack up and leave but it was if they didn’t even realise it was there. WHY?

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