“Table for two, Mr. Croc” says Egyptian Plover: The bird that eats from a Crocodile’s teeth!

by Aadarsh Jain

“Table for two, Mr. Croc” says Egyptian Plover: The bird that eats from a Crocodile’s teeth!

May 1, 2021

Egyptian Plover, also known as the "Crocodile Bird," is a brave little bird that enters a crocodile's mouth and consumes the tiny pieces of food trapped in its jaws. The fun part is crocodiles, never mind!

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The Egyptian Plover

The Egyptian Plover is a rare bird with a black eye mask that measures 19-22 cm in length; the rest of its head is white & is found on the shores of the river Nile, Egypt. Because of its close association with crocodiles, the creature is often referred to as the “crocodile bird.” According to Herodotus, crocodiles lay on the beach with their mouths open, and these birds fly into their mouths to consume the decayed meat caught between their jaws.

Symbiotic Process Called Mutualism

Both the bird and the crocodile prosper from each other’s presence. It’s a mechanism known as ‘mutualism,’ in which both the species exist in harmony and benefit from it. The crocodile’s mouth is being cleaned whilst the bird is being fed. The crocodile would rather have a clean mouth than a little bit of feathery food.

Crocodiles and Plover birds have a symbiotic arrangement that illustrates two species collaborating. The plover bird flies right into the crocodile’s jaws, which could seem to be a dangerous situation for the bird. The plover bird enjoys its meal by consuming the meat from under the crocodile’s jaws. In the meantime, the crocodile is benefited as the plover bird cleans the crocodile’s teeth by picking food trapped in its mouth. When a crocodile wants its mouth cleaned, it will open it and wait for aid from the plover bird. 

Nature is nothing if not bizarre. 

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Mutualism is clearly described as a mechanism in which all species profit from each other’s presence. This relationship may exist either within a species or between two species. The species with this relationship is termed symbionts. It’s a form of mechanism in which a host and a symbiont are mutually dependent on each other, and it may be short or long in length.

Some other examples of mutualism are :

Ants and the Acacia tree: Ants live and feed on Acacia trees. Ants live and feed on Acacia trees. The mutualist is ants, and the host is an acacia tree. The tree serves as a shelter and food source for the ants; in turn, the ants serve as a guard, protecting the trees from insects and grazing animals

Plants and honey bees: Bees and flowering plants have a mutualistic relationship that benefits both the species. Bees gather nectar and pollen from flowers, which these bees use to feed their whole colony. In turn, bees help flowers in pollination. Pollination is the process by which bees help flowers multiply by spreading pollen from flower to flower.


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