HORN H & KLEEFSTRA R (2019) Fatal forced adoption of an Oystercatcher chick Haematopus ostralegus by a Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula pair. LIMOSA 92 (1): 28-31.
On the 16th of June in 2018, a newly hatched Oystercatcher
chick on the Wadden Sea isle of Rottumerplaat ends up
in a neighbouring nest of a Common Ringed Plover
and forces itself under the breeding plover. The pair of
Oystercatchers does not make any attempt to get their
chick back. The Common Ringed Plover then takes the
Oystercatcher chick to the nearby beach, where the chick
frequently tries to hide underneath the wings of the plover.
This leads to a forced adoption, as also on the 17th of June
the Oystercatcher chick is inseparable from the Common
Ringed Plover. On the beach, the plover chases a family
of Oystercatchers away from the adopted chick, but does
not stand a chance when another adult Oystercatcher comes in and readily kills the adopted chick by pecking
it to death.
Oystercatcher chick adoption by another species seems
to be an unknown phenomenon. On the other hand,
Oystercatchers adopting chicks of other species like Avocet
Recurvirostra avosetta, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus and Blacktailed Godwit Limosa limosa has been documented, also
in the Netherlands. An Oystercatcher killing a conspecific
chick is a rarely observed phenomenon. The Oystercatcher
chick probably had little chance of surviving anyway with
a Common Ringed Plover as a foster parent, as young
Oystercatchers depend on their parents to be fed, while
plovers do not feed their precocial young.
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