Fun Dotterel Facts For Kids

Oluwatosin Michael
Oct 20, 2022 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Dotterel facts, New Zealand dotterel charadrius has small groups in North Island.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.1 Min

Do you know any bird species that do not lay eggs on trees and lays eggs in shallow holes dug in the ground? To know answers to these queries, let us explore exciting facts about species dotterels.

Dotterels resemble dove are shorebirds found nesting in sandy beaches. Different types of dotterels may also refer to Eurasian dotterel (Charadrius morinellus) as a wading bird, and other dotterels include black-fronted dotterel, Elseyornis melanops, New Zealand dotterel (Charadrius obscurus), red-kneed, shore dotterel, tawny-throated, hooded dotterel, inland dotterel,

This content illustrating New Zealand dotterel, New Zealand plover or red-breasted dotterel, and its Māori names include tūturiwhatu and kūkuruatu. There are two subspecies of New Zealand dotterel, Northern and Southern NZ dotterel. If you encounter any dotterels, please move away from its nesting sites as they are threatened and may not return back until you leave the site.

To know more about similar birds, check out these quail facts and Cooper's hawk facts.

Dotterel Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a dotterel?

Dotterels are shorebirds that belong to the plover family of birds commonly found along shorelines and in mudflats that wades for food in sand and water. The scientific name of Eurasian dotterel is Charadrius morinellus.

What class of animal does a dotterel belong to?

New Zealand dotterel is a New Zealand bird that belongs to the Aves class, Charadriidae family, and Charadrius genus. The birds that belong to this class have feathers, strong and still lightweight skeleton.

How many dotterels are there in the world?

New Zealand dotterel is an Endangered status bird species that are found only in New Zealand. The population of these New Zealand Dotterels is around 2500. Earlier the New Zealand dotterels are common and widespread species, but their numbers drastically reduced and are at risk. In contrast, the global population of Eurasian dotterel is 50000-220000 individuals.

Where does a dotterel live?

New Zealand dotterels can only be located in New Zealand. The Southern NZ dotterel population has 127 birds located in Stewart Island and nests on mountain tops.

Whereas Northern NZ dotterel population are located in the habitat of North Island from the west coast of Taranaki, along the east coast of Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty, and as far south as Mahia Peninsula as well as rocky beaches on the Thames coast.

The New Zealand dotterel is migratory; the Southern NZ Dotterel that nests in Stewart Island migrate to the South Island coast after breeding.

What is a dotterel's habitat?

The habitats of New Zealand Dotterel are near and around the coast, sandy beaches, and sand spits. They nest in open sites, sandbars close to beaches and lagoons. The nests laid above the high tide mark are prone to damage by intense storms and high spring tides.

Who do dotterels live with?

New Zealand dotterels (both adults and young) form groups in winter. Both species (Northern and Southern NZ dotterel ) forms post-breeding flocks at large estuaries.

The grouping of these dotterels is called flocking, begins from January peaks in March. Southern subspecies stay in flocks throughout winter. After flocking, they get back to nesting sites

How long does a dotterel live?

Dotterels usually live up to 14 years, while New Zealand dotterel Tūturiwhatu lives up to 30 years and the oldest New Zealand dotterel survived at least 42 years.

How do they reproduce?

New Zealand dotterel breeds in monogamous pairs, with the breeding season, are in spring and summer. Usually, two to three olive-brown eggs are laid from August-September at the high tide mark.

The eggs are the color of wet sand filled with dots. The incubation period is 28-30 days, and the chicks fly within 6-8 weeks. The young one matures by one year of age.

What is their conservation status?

As per IUCN, the conservation status of both subspecies vary. The conservation status of Northern subspecies bird (C.o.aquilonius) is Near Threatened, and the conservation status of Southern NZ dotterel bird species is Critically Endangered. The conservation status of Northern subspecies in the Wellington Region is Regionally Critical.

Because of intensive measures, the population of Southern subspecies changed from 62-250 (By 2005) and of Northern subspecies rises from 1300-1700 (by 2004)

Dotterel Fun Facts

What does a dotterel look like?

New Zealand dotterel is a bird in the largest species in the genus Charadrius with a rufous chest in breeding plumage, heavy black color bill, pale grey-brown upperparts such as head and back, and off-white chest band during the non-breeding season that turns into rusty orange during the breeding season.

Their color helps to camouflage from predators in a standing still position, but their sprinting and pausing stance push them in danger. Males are darker than females.

The first winter birds are characterized by pure white underparts and yellowish to pale grey-colored legs.

New Zealand dotterel or red-breasted dotterel is in pale grey-brown found feeding in estuaries.

How cute are they?

Dotterels are cute and beautiful birds that look adorable with run-and-pause chasing pursuits. These plover birds are migratory birds with heavily-built plover; brown upperparts with a sharp chirp voice are cultivated species with appreciable intelligence.

How do they communicate?

We can locate these birds with their loud, sharp chip call. The intensity of call increases perpendicularly with the perceived threat levels. These territory safeguarding birds who use sharp werr-wit voice during disputes uses high-pitched steep voice to warn its chicks, and rattling churr is used while chasing its intruders.

These intelligent birds distract their predators away from chicks and nests by rat-run races or fooling around as injured.

How big is a dotterel?

The size of the Northern NZ dotterel is 5.11 oz (145 g) with a length of 9.4 in (25 cm), whereas Southern NZ dotterel weighs around 5.64 oz (160 g). The size of the Southern subspecies is five times bigger than the size of black-fronted dotterel, whose weight is 1.14 oz (32 g).

How fast can a dotterel fly?

Dotterels are small birds that cannot fly for long periods. The speed and how high these dotterels fly are also unknown.

How much does a dotterel weigh?

The weight of Northern NZ dotterel adults is 5.11 oz (145 g), whereas the Southern NZ dotterel weighs around 5.64 oz (160 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female species of dotterel are named as male dotterel and female as female dotterel, respectively.

What would you call a baby dotterel?

A baby dotterel is called a chick or juvenile. As the nests are on the ground, once the chicks are hatched, they run around the beach areas with their tiny baby steps searching for food, and parent birds do not take responsibility for feeding the young one, but complete care is taken in safeguarding their chicks.

When confronted with danger, the small chicks crouch, and freeze where the older one runs the nearest cover to hide.

What do they eat?

As red-breasted dotterel or New Zealand dotterel reside along the seashores, their diet comprises aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates such as small fishes, crabs. On beaches, Sandhoppers are a common food item they depend on; in estuaries, they search for annelid worms and small crabs for survival.

Are they poisonous?

No, dotterel Tūturiwhatu is not a poisonous bird.

Would they make a good pet?

New Zealand dotterel or some other species of dotterels are habitats of seacoast, sandy beaches, sandpits, and they lay eggs in beach locations. However, it may not be possible to create such nesting locations and habitat locations for the pet birds, so adopting the dotterels as pet birds is not a good idea.

Did you know...

The New Zealand dotterel Charadrius obscurus found in Stewart Island is slightly larger.

Usually, dotterels nests close to residential or developed areas; breeding habitats are in danger.

Do dotterels migrate?

Yes, in general, dotterels are migratory birds. For example, the Southern New Zealand dotterel in Stewart Island migrates around the coasts of South Island after breeding. At the same time, the Northern New Zealand dotterel, which nests from Taranaki to Hawkes Bay, enjoys short trips to nearby estuaries after breeding.

Banded dotterels found throughout New Zealand in places such as Hawkes Bay are the dotterels that breed on the coasts and completes nesting does not prefer to migrate to longer distances. On the other side, banded dotterels, whose nesting is done in South Islands riverbeds, migrates to Australia after breeding.

Are they predators?

They are not active predators, depend on small aquatic portions for their food and survival. But these dotterels are victims of many predators.

For example, the population of the New Zealand dotterel Charadrius obscurus is drastically affected by predators such as hedgehogs, stoats. During the breeding season, adult birds become victims of cats and stoats. In protection of these species, live cat traps are established near-prime breeding sites.

Effective measures should be taken to protect dotterels.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these dodo facts and carrion crow facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable dotterel coloring pages.

Dotterel Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Sandhoppers, small fish, and crabs

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

2 - 6 eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?

Northern NZ Dotterel: 5.11 oz (145g) Southern NZ Dotterel: 5.64 oz (160 g)

What habitat Do they Live In?

coast, sandy beaches

Where Do They Live?

north island, stewart island of new zealand

How Long Were They?

Northern NZ Dotterel:9.4 in (25 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Charadrius obscurus

What Do They Look Like?

Pale grey-brown

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

humans, hedgehogs, stoats, cats, rats, and tide and storm surges

What is their Conservation Status?

Northern subspecies: Near Threatened Southern subspecies: Critically Endangered
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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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