The Eurasian dotterel (Charadrius morinellus), or in Europe just dotterel, is a small wader in the plover family of birds. It breeds in the Arctic tundra of northern Eurasia, from Norway to eastern Siberia, and on suitable mountain plateaus such as the Scottish highlands and the Alps. It nests in a bare ground scrape and lays two to four eggs.
This species is migratory, wintering in a narrow belt across north Africa from Morocco eastwards to Iran. Migration stopovers are traditional, and small parties (trips) of dotterels pass through each year at these usually inland arable or grassy sites. The winter habitat is semi-desert.
This plover is smaller and more compact than European golden plover. It has a striking whitish supercilium in all plumages and has plain wings in flight. Adults in summer are unmistakable, with a chestnut breast bordered above with white, black belly and warm brown back. The legs are yellow, and the short bill is black. As with the phalaropes, the female is brighter than the male. The male dotterel generally is responsible for incubation and looks after the chicks. In most cases the cock dotterel successfully prevents other males from getting his mate and fertilizing her eggs. He usually rears chicks that he has fathered and only 4.6% (2/44) of chicks were not the genetic offspring of the caring male, corresponding to 9.1% (2/22) broods affected.
Winter birds lack the rich underpart colouration, apart from the white breast line, and are greyer above. Young birds are similar but have a scaly appearance to their backs. The dotterel's food is insects and other small invertebrates such as snails and worms and shellfish. These are obtained by a run-and-pause technique, rather than the steady probing of some other wader groups. The flight call is a soft pyurr. The female's song is a simple repetitive whistle.
The Eurasian dotterel is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
The dotterel has long been considered tame and unsuspecting. This led to it being easy prey for illegal collection of the bird, which depleted its stocks. Another consequence of the friendly and trusting nature of this bird has caused the name 'dotterel' in English to carry a negative connotation. The term 'dotterel' is a contemptuous label used to describe somebody who is considered to be a doting old fool. The Gaelic name Amadán has a similar meaning. The dotterel's friendly nature made it an easy prey for sportsmen: King James I of England went every year to Royston, Hertfordshire to shoot dotterels. They were also prized as a delicacy: in 1534 Queen Anne Boleyn was presented with "a brace of dotterels".
A survey published in 2015 showed a fall in dotterel numbers in Scotland between 1987 and 2011, from 980 to 423 breeding males - representing a decline of 57%.
Egg – MHNT
- BirdLife International (2012). "Eudromias morinellus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Owens, Ian P. F.; Dixon, Andrew; Burke, Terry; Thompson, Des B. A. (1995). "Strategic paternity assurance in the sex-role reversed Eurasian dotterel (Charadrius morinellus): behavioral and genetic evidence". Behavioral Ecology 6: 14. doi:10.1093/beheco/6.1.14.
- Quinlan, Ray (2003). The Greater Ridgeway. Milnthorpe, Cumbria, UK: Cicerone Press Limited. p. 189. ISBN 978-1-85284-346-5.
- "Changes in the abundance and distribution of a montane specialist bird". Bird study, vo.62 issue 4. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
- Shorebirds by Hayman, Marchant and Prater ISBN 0-7099-2034-2
- Ageing and sexing (PDF; 3.1 MB) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta & Gerd-Michael Heinze
- Breeding dotterels in Kazakhstan Females incubated as well as males in Kazakhstan.
- Charadrius morinellus in the Flickr: Field Guide Birds of the World
- Media related to Charadrius morinellus at Wikimedia Commons
- Data related to Charadrius morinellus at Wikispecies