Mobile bird identification
Bird Field Guide


  Charadrius morinellus
Waders Menu
The Dotterel is one of the few birds in Europe where the male takes on the role of the female, sitting on the eggs and feeding young. The male is duller than the female. The Dotterel shows virtually little fear of people and is notoriously tame.
Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Charadriidae

Genus:  Charadrius

Species: C. morinellus
Dotterel in UK whilst on migration, probably a male bird but could be female in moult.

The male Dotterel in summer is duller than the female, he has a pale rust-red breast, black underside and his black markings are less pronounced than the female.

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The immature bird is similar to adults in winter plumage, however the feathers on the birds back are edged with a peachy brown giving a scaly affect.
The male Dotterel has similar markings to the female but only slightly duller. Note the distinctive white eye stripe and the faint white breast band on the bird.
In Winter both male and female birds look similar, the plumage is much paler. The Black underside is white and the upper parts are a much paler brown. The eye stripe is still distinctive and the legs are still yellow. This bird is in the early stages of winter plumage, you can still see some black on the underside and it still has some red colouration to the breast, both will be completely gone by mid-winter.
The female Dotterel in summer plumage has bright rust-red underside, white throat and bold white eye stripe.
Adult Male (Summer)
Adult Male and Female (Winter)
Dotterel female
Dotterel male
Adult Female (Summer)
Broad white eye stripe
Bright rust-red breast and black belly (darker than male)
Yellowish legs
White and black breast band
Dotterel juvenile
Dotterel in winter
Breeding distribution
Probably breeding
Probably breeding
Confirmed to be breeding in this area
Confirmed breeding sites
Breeding distribution of Dotterel
General distribution:
Breeds locally in Northern and central Europe. In the UK it is a rare breeding bird with Amber status.
Breeds in northern tundra and mountainous areas.
Dotterel male identification
Dull rust-red breast
Brown back with buff edged feathers
Dark slightly streaked cap
Dotterel flying
Broad white eye stripe
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Narrow white breast band
Yellowish legs
Black belly (less than female)
Brown back with buff edged feathers
White under tail
White under tail