New Zealand plover

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New Zealand plover
New Zealand Dotterel Waiheke Island.jpg
Not recognized (IUCN 3.1)[1]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Charadriidae
Genus: Charadrius
C. obscurus
Binomial name
Charadrius obscurus
Gmelin, 1789

The New Zealand plover (Charadrius obscurus), also known as the red-breasted plover or New Zealand dotterel, is an endangered species found only in certain areas of New Zealand. Its Māori names include tūturiwhatu, pukunui, and kūkuruatu. There are two subspecies, C. o. obscurus in the South Island and C. o. aquilonius in the North Island. A 2015 study found its closest relatives to be other plovers found in New Zealand, the nearest the wrybill (Anarhynchus frontalis), which the study found to be in the Charadrius clade, and then the double-banded plover or banded dotterel (Charadrius bicinctus).[1]

New Zealand plovers are shorebirds and are usually found on sandy beaches and sandspits or feeding on tidal estuaries. In 1990 these birds were nearing extinction with about 1300 northern dotterels, and about 75 southern dotterels, but conservation measures were effective in raising these numbers to 1700 and 250 respectively by 2005.


Parents lay eggs in the spring and summer. They nest on beaches above the high tide mark, and the nest is just a shallow hole dug in the ground, not made of twigs like a nest in a tree. The chicks hatch about 28 days after the eggs have been laid. Because the nests are on the ground, chicks can walk the day they hatch and can usually fly within 6–8 weeks.


The southerly subspecies (C. o. obscurus) is now only present on Stewart Island at the southern end of South Island and in 1990 its numbers had reduced to about 62 individual birds. Conservation measures were put in place involving the poisoning of feral cats and the population has gradually risen, with about 250 individuals being recorded in 2005. The northerly subspecies (C. o. aquilonius) has a wider range at the northerly end of the North Island and its population was about 1300 in 1989. It had recovered to about 1700 individuals by 2004 but only as a result of intensive management.

The IUCN, which treats the two subspecies as separate species, rates the northern subspecies as Near Threatened and the southern subspecies as Critically Endangered.[2][3]



1.^ Charadrius obscurus on the HBW Alive/BirdLife checklist (followed by IUCN) and Charadrius obscurus on the IOC checklist (followed by Wikipedia) are not equivalent; see Status section


  1. ^ dos Remedios, Natalie; et al. (2015). "North or south? Phylogenetic and biogeographic origins of a globally distributed avian clade" (PDF). Phylogenetics and Evolution. 89: 151–159. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2015.04.010. PMID 25916188.
  2. ^ IUCN (2016-10-01). "Charadrius aquilonius: BirdLife International: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T62291168A95195909". doi:10.2305/
  3. ^ IUCN (2017-10-01). "Charadrius obscurus: BirdLife International: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T62290750A126893184". doi:10.2305/

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