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9

Black-fronted Dotterel

(Charadrius [Elseyornis] melanops)
Alternate name(s): "Black-fronted Plover"; misnomer: "Sandpiper*"
Aboriginal name(s): "nidoolyorong" (WA)

Size: 16-18 cm
Weight: 25-40 g

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Black-fronted Dotterel at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

ADULT

Frontal view of a Black-fronted Dotterel (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Montecollina Bore, Strzelecki Track, SA, July 2015]

Frontal view of a Black-fronted Dotterel, with the typical "V"-shaped band giving it its name and the characteristic red eyering and red bill with black tip clearly visible
[Burren Junction, NSW, December 2014]

Near-frontal view of a Black-fronted Dotterel
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, April 2006]

Near-lateral view of a Black-fronted Dotterel foraging in shallow water (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Bowra Station, near Cunnamulla, QLD, September 2017]

Near-lateral view of a Black-fronted Dotterel
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, April 2006]

Close-up lateral view of a Black-fronted Dotterel (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Bowra Station, near Cunnamulla, QLD, September 2017]

Lateral view of a Black-fronted Dotterel
[Burren Junction, NSW, November 2013]

Lateral view of a Black-fronted Dotterel (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Karatta, Kangaroo Island, SA, March 2016]

Lateral view of a Black-fronted Dotterel on the prowl
[Goran Lake, NSW, June 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a Black-fronted Dotterel (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Bowra Station, near Cunnamulla, QLD, September 2017]

Near-dorsal view of a Black-fronted Dotterel (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Gatton, QLD, August 2017]

Black-fronted Dotterel seen from straight behind
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Black-fronted Dotterel resting in mud
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, May 2009]

Black-fronted Dotterell preening; this renders the brown plumage on the wing visible
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, May 2009]

Pair of Black-fronted Dotterels
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, May 2009]

Lateral view of a Black-fronted Dotterel in flight; wings angled
[Near Walgett, NSW, June 2012]

Lateral view of a Black-fronted Dotterel in flight; wings down
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, January 2015]

Black-fronted Dotterels taking off from a permanent waterhole (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Whittaker's Lagoon, NSW, June 2012]

Black-fronted Dotterels low in flight (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Whittaker's Lagoon, NSW, June 2012]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Lateral view of an immature Black-fronted Dotterel
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, April 2006]

Immature Black-fronted Dotterel in a mud puddle
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, April 2006]

Near-dorsal view of an immature Black-fronted Dotterel
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, March 2017]

Black-fronted Dotterel on a gravel bank in an inland river wetting its underwings (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Castlereagh River, Gilgandra, NSW, November 2016]

Black-fronted Dotterel on a gravel bank in an inland river cooling/hydrating a chick under one of its wings (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Castlereagh River, Gilgandra, NSW, November 2016]

Black-fronted Dotterel on a gravel bank in an inland river cooling/hydrating a chick under one of its wings (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Castlereagh River, Gilgandra, NSW, November 2016]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Dec Eggs: 1 - 3 Incubation period: 25 - 26 days Fledging age: N/A

The breeding season depends on geographical latitude and on weather conditions. In the tropical North they usually breed during the dry season. Given the right circumstances, Black-fronted Dotterels, in principle, can breed any time of the year. Chicks are precocials and will leave the nest very soon after hatching.

Nest building: N/A Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Scrape Material: Sandy or rocky soil Height above ground: N/A

Black-fronted Dotterel nest with 2 eggs (photo courtesy of D. Johnston)
[Gilgais, Pilliga NP, NSW, 1980ies]

Black-fronted Dotterel nest with 3 eggs (photo courtesy of D. Johnston)
[Gulargambone Road, near Baradine, NSW, 1980ies]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 29 x 21 mm Colour: Heavily speckled Shape: Tapered oval

Black-fronted Dotterels (see also Red-kneed Dotterel eggs for comparison!) have the ability to adapt the colour of their eggs to the surroundings of the nest/scrape.

Black-fronted Dotterel egg colour adaptation to black soil (photo courtesy of D. Johnston)
[Gilgais, Pilliga NP, NSW, 1980ies]

Black-fronted Dotterel egg colour adaptation to "Blue Metal" rock (photo courtesy of D. Johnston)
[Gulargambone Road, near Baradine, NSW, 1980ies]

Behaviour

Black-fronted Dotterels usually run around the water's edge searching for food. They are quite hard to approach, because always out in open terrain.

At the end of winter (early September 2011) we have observed a small number (seven) Black-fronted Dotterels gathering on the shore of Narrabri Lake for a bit of a competition. The males tried to impress the females by jutting out their Black-fronted chests. The females either responded to, or invoked, this behaviour with a lively twitter that could be heard from afar. At roughly the same time we heard reports of up to 65 Black-fronted Dotterels spotted together.

Apart from the male display behaviour, this photo (albeit somewhat unsharp) also shows both the upperwing and underwing patterns of Black-fronted Dotterels
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2011]

Black-fronted Dotterel on a riverine mudflat
[Manilla, NSW, May 2013]

Black-fronted Dotterels can sometimes be found by roadsides, especially when the ditches are muddy
[Near Narrabri, NSW, January 2014]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

blfrdot_20140728.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact calls © MD
blfrdot_20140315.mp3 (NW NSW) Q&A © MD
blfrdot_20140124.mp3 (NW NSW) Warning call © MD
blfrdot_20151202.mp3 (NW NSW) Warning calls (in-flight) © MD
blfrdot_20140911.mp3 (NW NSW) Alarm calls (human) © MD
blfrdot_20141125.mp3 (NW NSW) Various © MD
blfrdot_20141206.mp3 (NW NSW) Various © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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