Family Crab-plover (Dromadidae)

Least Concern

Crab-plover (Dromas ardeola)


French: Drome ardéole German: Reiherläufer Spanish: Dromas

Dromas Ardeola


, 1805,





Coasts of Indian Ocean. Breeds on shores of NW Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Red Sea. Non-breeders regularly range S to Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar, and E to W India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Chagos and Andaman Is (possibly breeds in the last four sites)#R; also small numbers to NE South Africa, and to SW Thailand.

Descriptive notes

38–41 cm; 230–325 g; wingspan 66–78 cm. Unmistakable black-and-white wader, with stout black bill and long bluish-grey legs. Plumage white apart from black... read more


Perhaps most frequently vocalizes in flight and some calls considered tern-like. Far-carrying... read more


Sandy coastlines and islands, intertidal sandflats and mudflats, estuaries, lagoons and exposed... read more

Food and feeding

Predominantly crabs (>95% during breeding season), but also other crustaceans, small bivalve molluscs, marine worms and other intertidal... read more


Season Apr–Jul; in United Arab Emirates first young hatch c. mid Jun with fledging occurring from late Jul until early Sept (mainly... read more


Partially migratory, but extent of movement obscured by uncertainty of breeding range, e.g. unclear... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Overall population thought to number c. 43,000 individuals in 1990s, but increased knowledge led to revised estimate of 60,000–... read more

Recommended citation

Rands, M.R.W. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Crab-plover (Dromas ardeola). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 January 2020).