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9

Red-capped Plover

(Charadrius ruficapillus)
Alternate name(s): "Red-capped Dotterel"; misnomers: "Sandlark", "Sandpiper*"
Size: 14-16 cm; wing span 27-34 cm
Weight: 30-45 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 Red-capped Plover at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

ADULT

MALE

Near-frontal view of a male Red-capped Plover in breeding plumage
[Near Old Bar, NSW, June 2011]

Lateral view of a male Red-capped Plover in breeding plumage; click on image to see the bird as part of a small flock with other birds in various stages of moulting
[Goran Lake, NSW, May 2012]

Lateral view of a male Red-capped Plover in breeding plumage on the edge of a salt marsh
[Near Old Bar, NSW, June 2011]

Can you stand like that? Note where the centre of gravity of the Red-capped Plover's body must be in comparison to the legs
[Near Old Bar, NSW, June 2011]

Slightly different viewing angle, more from behind
[Near Old Bar, NSW, June 2011]

Red-capped Plover probing the sand for prey
[Near Old Bar, NSW, June 2011]

FEMALE

Frontal view of a female Red-capped Plover in breeding plumage

Frontal view of a female Red-capped Plover in breeding plumage
[Goran Lake, NSW, May 2012]

Near-frontal view of a female Red-capped Plover in breeding plumage

Lateral view of a female Red-capped Plover in breeding plumage
[Goran Lake, NSW, May 2012]

Near-frontal view of a female moulting into its breeding plumage

Lateral view of a female(?) Red-capped Plover moulting into its breeding plumage

Small flock of Red-capped Plovers, mostly in breeding plumage, just after takeoff
[Goran Lake, NSW, May 2012]

NON-BREEDING

Close-up frontal view of a Red-capped Plover in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boodjidup Beach, WA, December 2016]

Close-up frontal view of a Red-capped Plover in non-breeding plumage stretching one of its wings (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boodjidup Beach, WA, December 2016]

It is not clear what the Red-capped Plover was doing in the shallow depression in the sand (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boodjidup Beach, WA, December 2016]

Lateral view of a Red-capped Plover in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Dorsal view of a Red-capped Plover in non-breeding plumage

Three non-breeding Red-capped Plovers (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Three birds in flight: Red-capped Plover in breeding plumage, right, in non-breeding plumage, centre, and a Red-necked Stint, left
[Lee Point beach, Darwin, NT, August 2014]

Dorsal view of a Red-capped Plover in flight (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Size comparison between two Red-capped Plovers (centre & right) and a Black-fronted Dotterel (left)
[Goran Lake, NSW, May 2012]

Similar shot of two Red-capped Plovers checking for raptors (centre & left) and a Black-fronted Dotterel (right); photo courtesy of C. Hayne

Breeding information

Ekanayake et al. (Proc Biol Sciv. 282(1806) May 2015) determined that pairs of Red-capped Plovers (or birds living in open habitats such as beaches in general) tend to divide both incubation and dependent care duties in such a way that the one with the dullest (and therefore most cryptic) plumage is in attendance during the day (when visual predators are active), while the bird with the more colourful plumage takes over the night shift.

Female Red-capped Plover in dull breeding plumage attending to its young chick (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lee Point beach, Darwin, NT, August 2017]

Behaviour

Like many other waders, Red-capped Plovers prefer to evade disturbances by running along the waterfront, rather than flying away.

Female Red-capped Plover in breeding plumage, noticing the photographer
[Near Old Bar, NSW, September 2011]

The Red-capped Plover turned sideways...
[Near Old Bar, NSW, September 2011]

... and walked around the observer along the shore of a salt marsh
[Near Old Bar, NSW, September 2011]

This Red-capped Plover showed the photographer a clean pair of heels
[Near Old Bar, NSW, September 2011]

Food, Diet

Red-capped Plovers dig small animals out of sand, as seen in the photo below.

Red-capped Plover trying to gulp down its prey
[Near Old Bar, NSW, June 2011]

Red-capped Plover in breeding plumage digging up a meal from the sand (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boodjidup Beach, WA, December 2016]

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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