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Banded Dotterel

Status: Nationally vulnerable (click to see what this means)

Male banded dotterel

Male banded dotterel

Braided river status 

Banded dotterels are present during the breeding season in August-January, and usually the most frequently encountered native bird species.  It favours nesting in the more stable and low-stature vegetated areas along the outer margins of the main waterways (distribution map).


The double-banded plover (Charadrius bicinctus), known as the banded dotterel, double banded plover, or tuturiwhatu (Māori) in New Zealand, is a small (20cm) wader in the plover family of birds. It lives on beaches, mud flats, grasslands and bare ground. Two subspecies are recognised, the nominate Charadrius bicinctus bicinctus breeding in New Zealand and the Chatham Islands, and Charadrius bicinctus exilis breeding in the Auckland Islands.

Female banded dotterel on nest © Steve Attwood

Female banded dotterel on nest


Adults in breeding plumage are white with a dark greyish brown back, a distinctive brown breast, and a thinner band of black below the neck and between the eyes and beak. Younger birds have no bands, and are often speckled brown on top, with less white parts.

They are fairly widespread in the south of New Zealand, but not often seen in the north. The nominate subspecies Charadrius bicinctus bicinctus is seen along mainland braided rivers. It is partly migratory, breeding in New Zealand and the Chatham Islands and some wintering in Australia, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji, others staying in New Zealand. The Auckland Islands subspecies is sedentary but some birds move from their territories to the shore.

Juvenile banded dotterel

Juvenile banded dotterel


Their eggs are grey and speckled with black, making them well camouflaged against river stones and pebbles, which generally make up the main structure of their very simple nest.

Banded dotterel eggs Ashley River © Peter Reese

Banded dotterel eggs

Conservation activities

More information

Research papers