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Species Guide
A photo of a Red-capped Plover (Charadrius ruficapillus)
Red-capped Plover

Red-capped Plover

Charadrius ruficapillus

The Red-capped Plover, or Red-capped Dotterel, is a diminutive wader with a charming appearance. It is characterized by a white forehead and underparts, while the upperparts are predominantly grey-brown. The adult male boasts a distinctive rufous or reddish-brown crown and hindneck, which is complemented by the adult female's paler rufous and grey-brown crown and hindneck, accented with a pale loreal stripe. In flight, one can observe the dark brown remiges and primary covert feathers, set against a striking white wingbar. This species measures 14–16 cm in length, spans 27–34 cm across the wings, and tips the scales at a mere 35–40 g.

Identification Tips

During the breeding season, the Red-capped Plover dons a red-brown crown and nape with contrasting black margins. Outside of this period, the plumage becomes somewhat duller and the black margins fade away, offering a more subdued appearance.


The Red-capped Plover frequents a variety of environments, from coastal estuaries, bays, and beaches to sandflats and mudflats. It is equally at home in inland saline wetlands and other wetland areas that provide expanses of bare ground.


This species is widespread across Australia and has been recorded as a vagrant in New Zealand, where it also bred in modest numbers between 1950 and 1980.


The Red-capped Plover is a ground nester, situating its nest close to wetlands. The nest itself is a simple depression in the earth, often with little to no lining.


Breeding along the coasts of Australia is a seasonal affair for the Red-capped Plover, but inland, breeding is triggered by the unpredictable rains. The clutch typically consists of two pale yellowish-brown eggs, speckled with black, which are incubated for about 30 days, predominantly by the female. The precocial chicks are quick to leave the nest after hatching, equipped with the ability to move and mature enough to fend for themselves.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Red-capped Plover is composed mainly of small invertebrates, with a particular fondness for molluscs, crustaceans, and worms.

Conservation Status

The Red-capped Plover is classified as Least Concern due to its extensive range and the absence of any significant population decline.

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Red-capped Plovers on Birda


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A photo of a Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) , male

Kentish Plover

Charadrius alexandrinus
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