Bringing Up Salt and Pepper - A Pair of Plover Chicks

by Gabrielle Friebe


We named them Salt and Pepper -   the plovers were found just hatched next to a pile of feathers that was their mum. We don't know what happened to her. Feral cat, powerful owl something like that.   Scroll down or click on the links below for their story and pictures: 


2 Plover Close

They both fitted into the palm of Pete's hand and were very thankful of a warm hand rescuing them from the confusion of mum not being around.




Plovers are precocial (means fully feathered and able to feed itself) however they still need the protection of mum and her guidance on hiding when anything that may be a predator comes close.


plover close

Initally we blocked off our dining room, put up a sign 2 Plover Close and started to set up a really nice plover environment.


all gorwn up


This meant old bedspreads on the floor loaded up with piles of dirt from termite mounds with live termites inside bowls of water, big clumps of grass in water to keep them fresh plus fresh trays of food comprising meal worms, chopped fruit, lettuce and greens, chicken crumble and a mix we make up for insectivore birds.




baby plovers - 2

It was a lavish tray every day and it was mostly all consumed. They need a wide variety of food to thrive and I think we got the mix just right.




all gorwn up

Pete also dug up more termite mounds dirt with live termite mounds in the dirt as well.


getting bigger

The little treasures soon learnt that not all their food moved and grew at an amazing rate. We weighed them every day and as you can see from the growth chart excerpt from Salt's records that it was phenomenal to watch them.


Pepper grew more slowly and was smaller. We determined she must be a female as a result but were not sure.


  Getting older (Safety in an aviary)

plovers - in a safe refuge

After 3 weeks we moved them outside to an avairy with a dirt floor and a verandah extension of grass and set up a similar environment.


growing up 2

They became wilder and just ate and ate and grew and grew.....


Friends with kangaroos (Out in the open)

all gorwn up

The next stage was in the kangaroo release pens where there was a babies enclosure measuring approx 20 metres x 10 metres.


all gorwn up

They loved being out there and thrived with the sunshine and exercise


a young adult

We decided that after a couple of weeks we would open the babies enclosure gate and let them have the whole 8 acres of kangaroo release pens. Once they were ready they could fly over the 6 foot fencing and would be able to look after themselves.


Back in the Wild (Flying with New Mates)

all gorwn up

This is exactly what happened. Salt and Pepper flew into the house yard, we continued to put out a small amount of food and they grazed and were quite content. They were not as flighty as wild plovers but still kept a good distance from us.


young adults

We have a number of resident plovers and the habitat around one of our dams is their favourite with a grassy area and waterway.


dandy legs

Pepper the smaller of the two (presume female) was quite quickly adopted by the wild group leaving poor Salt to wander around by himself. This was only for a short time though as he soon flew out to talk to his wild friends but was always happy to fly back and have a snack.


close up

Eventually over about 3 weeks he stayed out more and more and flew in less to greet us. 

One evening we watched him take off and fly right down to a far dam (100 metres), circle around and land with some wild friends. We knew Salt would be fine too.



Growth Records were kept on the Online Animal Record System database on a regular basis.  Below is a page out of Salt's diary.

Salt's growth chart


Gabrielle FriebeGabrielle Friebe has been wildlife carer for over 35 years and has rescued and rehabilitated countless animals and birds.

You can learn more about her work at:


Thank you Gabi for sharing this beautiful story and pictures with us. 

Gitie & Ron


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