In New Zealand there are several bird species belonging to the same order Charadriiformes and family charadriidae.

Endemic dotterels/plovers.

  • New Zealand dotterel, also known as red-breasted dotterel and tuturiwhatu pukunui.There are two subspecies – the North Island dotterel and the South Island dotterel (breeds only on Stewart Island). Both species are considered endangered.
  • Banded dotterel known as tuturiwhatu. They may be spotted near wrybills or NZ dotterel. Some birds have been recorded as migrating as far as Tasmania. There are two subspecies – The Auckland Island subspecies (not known to migrate)  and the main NZ species. Their total population is declining.
  • Shore Plover also known as tuturuatu. Now found only on the Chatham Islands.
  • Wrybill also known as ngutuparore. They have a very pointed bill curved to the right.

Native dotterel/plovers. Of these the spurwinged plover is easy to recognise.

  • Lesser Sand Plover – a migrating plover which breeds inland in the Russian Far East and eastern Siberia. Can easily be misidentified as a banded dotterel.
  • Greater Sand Plover – a migrating plover which breeds in breeds in western China, southern Mongolia and Siberia and spend the northern winters in Australasia.
  • Black-fronted Dotterel. First arrived in NZ from Australia in the 1950s. They are rarely spotted in coastal habitats but you may be lucky to see them inland especially if you live in the Hawke’s Bay or the Manawatu.
  • Spurwinged Plover
  • Other species have occasionally been recorded in New Zealand.

It can be easy to mistake one species for the other.  If you saw them together at the same time you might be able to distinguish them by feather colour and markings, body size, length and shape of beak or colour of legs. With single birds it becomes trickier especially if the birds are some distance away. They never stay put while you consult the internet and often your photos are fuzzy. Fear not you can become an expert. It just takes time and familiarity.