New Zealand Plover

Information about the Bird New Zealand Plover

New Zealand plovers are shorebirds and are usually found on sandy beaches and sandspits or feeding on tidal estuaries. Around 1990 these birds were nearing extinction with about 1300 northern dotterels, and approximately 75 or so southern dotterels but conservation measures have been effective in raising these numbers to 1700 and 250 respectively by 2005.The New Zealand plover, red-breasted plover, or New Zealand dotterel (Charadrius obscurus) is an endangered species found only in certain areas of New Zealand. Its Mori names include tturiwhatu, pukunui, and kkuruatu. It is related to the Eurasian dotterel. There are two subspecies, C. o. obscurus in the South Island and C. o. aquilonius in the North Island.

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 rates this bird as "Endangered".

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