(2057) Dromas ardeola.
Dromas ardeola Paykull, K. Svensk. Vet.-Ak. Nya Handl., xxvi, pt. 3, p. 182, pl. 8 (1805) (India); Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 209.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Back, long scapulars and greater coverts black; primaries black on the outer webs, pale brownish on the inner and with white shafts; outer secondaries brown on the outer webs, white on the inner; angle of eye behind and before black; remainder of plumage pure white, the tail of ten remaining pale grey for some time after the rest of the adult plumage is attained.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill black; legs and feet grey-white to pale glaucous-blue.
Measurements. Wing, 209 to 225 mm., 201 to 210 mm. ; tail 65 to 75 mm.; tarsus 89 to 100 mm; culmen, 55 to 61 mm., 54 to 56 mm.
Young birds have the crown and neck pale grey, the former with black shaft-streaks; back, scapulars and wing-coverts darker grey tinged with brown, the feathers of the back and scapulars edged blackish; tail grey-brown, whiter on the inner webs of the lateral feathers.
Distribution. Prom the shores of the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, all round - bat locally distributed - the coast of India, Ceylon and the Laccadives.
Nidification. The Crab-Plover breeds in May on the islands of rock and sand in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea and in late June on the islands at Adam's Bridge, Ceylon. It nests in colonies, often of great size, scooping burrows anything from one to four feet long in the sand or, occasionally, among the loose boulders and rocks, in which it lays its one pure white egg. This is enormous for the size of the bird and quite unlike the egg of any other Charadriine bird. The texture is smooth and close but not bard and the shape is a long oval, slightly pointed at the smaller end. Thirty eggs average 65.4 x 45.9 mm.: maxima 67.3 x 47.5 mm.; minima 61.0 x 46.2 and 63.5 x 44.2 mm. The eggs cannot be distinguished from some of those of the Shearwaters.
Habits. The Crab-Plover is a sociable bird, collecting and breeding in very large numbers on the islands of the Persian Gulf and, to a less degree, on those of the Southern Red Sea and the islands along the coast of India. It straggles in smaller numbers to the islands of the Bay of Bengal and has occurred in those off the Western coast of the Malay Peninsula. In its habits it is crepuscular and very Plover-like, flying well and running with great speed in short jerky runs. It is said to have a low rather musical call and to feed chiefly on crabs.