Breeding success for northern dotterels

Department of Conservation —  19/07/2017

By Nicola Munro, Biodiversity Ranger

Dotterel mum and chick.

Dotterel mum and chick

Successful breeding season

Last summer saw another successful breeding season for Northern New Zealand dotterels on the Coromandel Peninsula.

DOC’s dotterel rangers and an extensive volunteer network form the Dotterel Watch Programme. They join forces every year for the breeding season between August and March.

The aim is to see adult dotterel pairs successfully hatch and raise their chicks to fledge, and join the small but recovering national population of Northern New Zealand dotterels/tūturiwhatu pukunui, one of two subspecies of New Zealand dotterel.

This season 55 dotterel nesting sites with 216 nesting pairs were monitored on the Coromandel Peninsula. This resulted in 131 chicks fledging – a very productive season!

Dotterels on the beach.

Dotterels on the beach

Northern New Zealand dotterels

New Zealand dotterels are shorebirds, usually found on sandy beaches and sandspits or feeding on tidal estuaries. Their camouflage makes them difficult to see when standing still, but their habit of running quickly and pausing to feed makes them easy to identify.

Northern New Zealand dotterels are a threatened, endemic species that are only found in the northern two thirds of the North Island.

New Zealand dotterels have a national population of around 2175 – less than some species of kiwi.

The Coromandel

The Coromandel is one of only two regions that provide an increasing contribution to the population of New Zealand dotterels.

The productivity of this region is due to the coordination of community efforts with the support of DOC to protect and enhance survival rates.

Dotterel rangers spend the season working with and assisting beachside communities who have the privilege of sharing their backyard with returning, resident dotterel pairs every year.

Dotterels in Schools

The Dotterels in Schools programme is also incorporated into the season with the aim to involve younger people in an interesting conservation topic they can witness in their local area.

Students learn about the significance of native, endemic species (in particular the dotterel) and have the opportunity to create a sign for their local beach to share a special message they have learnt.

Signs for the local beach - created as part of the Dotterels in Schools programme.

Signs for the local beach – created as part of the Dotterels in Schools programme

How you can help

People, their pets and vehicles pose a major threat to New Zealand dotterels. You can help by staying out of roped-off areas and keeping dogs and vehicles off beaches and sandspits when dotterels are present.

There are still many Coromandel beaches that require dotterel minders If you are interested in being involved get in touch – a dotterel pair nearby may need your help!

Northern New Zealand dotterel chicks. Photo: Mithuna Sothieson.

Northern New Zealand dotterel chicks

A big thanks to all minders, volunteers, students, and organisations who give their time in one way or another to protect this threatened endemic species.

One response to Breeding success for northern dotterels


    that is great and they are so cute! Education is the key to pretty much everything conservation in NZ so it is great it is getting into our schools – the kids can often teach the adults a thing or two!