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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

Frontal view of a male Red-capped Plover; note the black loral stripe
[Goran Lake, NSW, May 2012]

Frontal view of a male Red-capped Plover

Close-up frontal view of a male Red-capped Plover (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Clarendon, QLD, November 2018]

Near-frontal view of a male Red-capped Plover

Near-lateral view of a male Red-capped Plover

Close-up lateral view of a male Red-capped Plover (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Clarendon, QLD, November 2018]

Lateral view of a male Red-capped Plover; click on image to see the bird as part of a small flock
[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]

Lateral and near-dorsal views of male Red-capped Plovers (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Broadwater, Gold Coast, QLD, March 2019]

Dorsal view of a male Red-capped Plover with a deformed bill (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Broadwater, Gold Coast, QLD, March 2019]

Comparison between Red-capped Plovers (male right; female centre) and a Black-fronted Dotterel (left)
[Goran Lake, NSW, May 2012]

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

FEMALE

Close-up frontal view of a female Red-capped Plover; note the rufous-grey loral stripe that widen under the eyes
(photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boodjidup Beach, WA, December 2016]

Frontal view of a female Red-capped Plover (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Fraser Island, QLD, September 2018]

Lateral view of a female Red-capped Plover (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Fraser Island, QLD, September 2018]

Lateral view of a female Red-capped Plover

Lateral view of a female Red-capped Plover (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Clarendon, QLD, November 2018]

Near-dorsal view of a female Red-capped Plover

Dorsal view of a female Red-capped Plover (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Broadwater, Gold Coast, QLD, March 2019]

Dorsal/ventral view of a female Red-capped Plover (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Fraser Island, QLD, September 2018]

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

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

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Near-dorsal view of an immature Red-capped Plover; note the still partly white lores (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Broadwater, Gold Coast, QLD, March 2019]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Sep - Dec Eggs: 3 - 5 Incubation period: 31 - 33 days Fledging age: N/A

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 plumage attending to its young chick (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lee Point beach, Darwin, NT, August 2017]

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

Female Red-capped Plover on its nest (photo courtesy of R. Brinsley)
[Samphire flats near Venus Bay, Eyre Peninsula, SA, October 2015]

Eggs

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

Size: 37 x 27 mm Colour: Creamy, copious mid- to dark-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Red-capped Plover nest with 2 eggs in it (photo courtesy of R. Brinsley)
[Seaweed bank at James Well, Yorke Peninsula, October 2018]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: ? Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Pair/group

Red-capped Plovers are one of the bird species that pretend injury to distract intruders and lure them away from either nest or chicks.

Close-up frontal view of a female Red-capped Plover pretending to have a broken wing (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boodjidup Beach, WA, December 2016]

Another female Red-capped Plover doing a "broken wing routine" (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lee Point beach, Darwin, NT, July 2017]

Female Red-capped Plover trying to distract the observer (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lee Point beach, Darwin, NT, July 2017]

Female Red-capped Plover trying to distract the observer (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lee Point beach, Darwin, NT, July 2017]

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

Male Red-capped Plover 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 female 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]

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

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.

redcplv_20190619.m4a (NW NSW) Contact calls © 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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