Tūturiwhatu / Banded dotterel

Banded dotterels are a small plover found throughout New Zealand. The ones that breed in the South Island high country migrate the furthest in summer –1600km or more to Tasmania and south-eastern mainland Australia, or to northern New Zealand.

They lay their eggs between August and November in shallow scrapes in gravel, or sand. The eggs and birds are incredibly well camouflaged, so it’s easy to overlook them, which is their main defence from predators. However, this also leaves them vulnerable to introduced predators, who use scent to track down their prey, and being run over by vehicles like quads or 4WDs on the river banks.

The broad chestnut breast band that banded dotterels are known for is actually the male breeding plumage. At other times they are plain brown above and mainly white below.