The Black-fronted Dotterel is a small wader. Photo: Contributed
The Black-fronted Dotterel is a small wader. Photo: Contributed

BIRD OF THE WEEK: Learn more about black-fronted dotterel

The black-fronted dotterel is a small wader that scurries around the edges of lakes and lagoons looking for titbits of food. It is very handsome with a distinctive black face-mask and breast-band and prominent chestnut shoulder feathers.

The bill is bright red with a black tip and the legs are pink orange, the dark eye has a red ring around it.

Flight is slow with almost hesitant wing beats.

It is a resident shorebird that breeds in the local area and is found far inland as well near the coast.

It likes to eat small aquatic shellfish and insects which it takes from the shallow edges of a wetland.

They have a distinctive behaviour of running along the edge of the water, stopping to look around and then leaning forward to peck at food items.

They are usually only seen in ones or twos.

The black-fronted dotterel lays its eggs in a shallow scrape, often on pebbly ground and quite close to water.

It may have more than one brood per year.

Both parents incubate the eggs and look after the young.

The behaviour of nesting on the ground means that they are susceptible to predators but the eggs have a mottled colouring to resemble the pebbly area where they are laid so they are very difficult to see.

The parents also have a distraction behaviour where they spread their wings and lie on the ground as if they are injured and slowly move away from the nest to lure predators from the vicinity of the nest.

They are related to the red-kneed dotterel which is more likely to be seen further inland.

Good places to see them are at the Botanic Gardens and along the coast from Burnett Heads to Bargara.

Allan Briggs is the secretary of BirdLife Capricornia, contact him with your birding questions at