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An actor and camouflage expert

The little ringed plover

It is on the list of endangered species and you really do hardly ever see it. But that is only partly due to the fact that it is so rare. The little ringed plover comes from Africa to breed on the Rhine, where it lays its eggs in a shallow nest hollow on the gravelly or sandy banks of rivers or gravel pits. The bird, its eggs and its young are so well camouflaged that you can lie next to them for a whole day without noticing your neighbours. And this is the problem. Gravel and sand beaches have become rare on the Rhine. And the little ringed plover has to share those that still exist with recreational users, if a section is not part of a nature conservation area. But even if we can't see it, the bird can see us. During the incubation period that may not be too bad because then one parent is sitting silently on the eggs, hoping that this enormous two-legged creature won't find it. But once the chicks have hatched, it's a completely different matter. For example, if a fox comes too close to the young, it's time to act. The incubating parent bird mimics an injured bird looking for sympathy. With drooping wings and limping pitifully, it takes on the role of an easy lunch and thus lures the predator away from the brood. Once it has established sufficient distance between the threat and the chicks, it flies up and escapes, probably not without shouting gloating abuse to the duped predator. But that doesn't work so well with humans. They probably don't even notice the Oscar-worthy performance and don't move away from the nest. The old bird can't return and the eggs or chicks become too cold. So, if you see a cute brown and white bird with a black collar pathetically limping back and forth in front of you, please fall for it and allow yourself to be lured away. Its nest is nearby and you are disturbing the brood.

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