Counts and breeding biology of Crab Plovers Dromas ardeola on Bubiyan Islands, Kuwait, in 2012–2014


212 – 220

7 December 15

Roeland A. Bom, Khalid al-Nasrallah


Roeland Bom
Department of Marine Ecology, NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, 1790 AB Den Burg, P.O. Box 59, Texel, The Netherlands.


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The Crab Plover Dromas ardeola is an uncommonly studied wader, renowned for breeding in colonies inside self-excavated burrows on islands around the Arabian Peninsula. This study presents counts and observations on the breeding biology in several colonies on the Bubiyan Islands in Kuwait during 2012–2014. Up to 1,750 burrows of Crab Plovers were found in a single year. We estimate that at least 3–5% of the world population uses the Bubiyan Islands for reproduction, making it a very important area for this species. Burrow densities were much higher than those reported in Iran, United Arab Emirates and Eritrea, but nesting habitat availability did not seem to limit the number of nests because colonies never extended over entire islands. The breeding season extended from April to July, and this timing was similar to nearby areas in Iran. The food that the Bubiyan Crab Plovers brought to the colonies for their young consisted of crabs (75% of all observed prey items) and mudskippers (25%). A review of the currently known breeding areas shows that the breeding areas of Crab Plovers are confined to at least 56 colonies at 19 sites. All colonies except two can be found in the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea, with the Arabian Gulf hosting about two thirds of all breeding Crab Plovers. The colonies on the Bubiyan Islands are among the five largest known colonies of Crab Plovers around the world.