Dotterel/Tūturiwhatu banner image

The NZ Dotterel / Tūturiwhatu

Thursday 13 January 2022

Council and DOC are calling for the community to keep a look out for NZ dotterel nesting sites while out and about this summer.

Endemic to New Zealand, the NZ dotterel is endangered with around 2,075 birds left (2011 population estimate).

DOC biodiversity ranger Jamie Quirk says Tairāwhiti is very lucky to have a population of the dotterel/ tūturiwhatu.

“We’re asking people to avoid nesting sites, give the birds space and keep an eye on dogs.

“Many of the birds are now nesting with chicks and are at risk of being disturbed.”

The NZ dotterel breeding season is from September to February where they can be found nesting in coastal areas anywhere from the high tide mark to the base of dunes, on riverbeds and at the mouths of streams. They lay two or three eggs in nests made by beach scrapes and are good at camouflaging.

The dotterel is mostly pale-grey/brown on its back with an off-white under which becomes a rusty-orange colour in winter and spring. The males are generally darker than the females. They have a prominent head, large dark-brown eyes, yellowish to pale-grey legs and a strong black bill. They have a characteristic chip, which is often heard before they are seen, with the call rate increasing as threat levels rise.

The well camouflaged nests which hold the eggs are very vulnerable to being found by dogs, trampled on by people or being run over by cars/quad bikes.

Help protect these endangered endemic birds by keeping:

  • Below the high tide mark
  • Distance from the nests
  • On marked tracks and paths wherever possible
  • Dogs on a leash
  • Vehicles off beaches and sandspits

For more information go to the DOC website , and New Zealand Birds Online website.