This Ethiopian mystery bird is part of a group of birds that share a particular life history trait that affects their morphology.
Question: This Ethiopian mystery bird is part of a group of birds that share a particular life history trait that affects their morphology. What trait is that and how is the morphology of these birds affected? Can you name this bird’s taxonomic family and species?
Response: This is a three-banded plover, Charadrius tricollaris, a species that is placed into the wading bird family long with the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings, Charadriidae. The charadrids are characterised by their short bills and large eyes, both of which make them superb sight-hunters that feed on insects, worms, and a variety of invertebrates. As with most charadrids, this bird can be distinguished from other, similar species based on the colours and the colour patterns on its face and breast. It can be separated from the similar (but larger and darker) Forbes’s banded plover, Charadrius forbes, by its white forehead and white wingbar.
An interesting feature of Charadrius species is they have breast bands. It’s not known why this particular marking is so common across the genus, but it sure is a helpful clue when identifying the species. Basically, you can make a chart to identify many of these birds as follows:
1. plovers with complete breast bands: ringed, semi-palmated, little ringed & long-billed
2. plovers with double or triple breast bands: killdeer, three-banded, Forbes’, two-banded, double-banded