Dotterel Courtship Display, Nest and Chicks

Dotterel Plumage and the Bird's Name

Dotterel Behaviour and Food

Dotterel Courtship Display, Nest and Chicks

Dotterel Habitat, Breeding Areas and Migration

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Dotterel Courtship Display

The gender role-reversal of the Dotterel also becomes particularly noticeable in the courtship display of this species.  The generation of breeding pairs starts with an unpartnered group, within which the females are the more active members.  High breeding populations appear to be already loosely paired in the breeding area however. The female tries to draw the attention of a male on herself by aligning, flashing and ducking. If no reaction of a male takes place, the female returns to the main group. Small arguments around a male can occur between the females. The group, consisting usually of less than 10 individuals, often changes its location; also the group members are variable. If a male and female pair up, they separate from the group and begin to occupy a territorial area of their own, which is energetically defended by both birds. This partnership frequently exists up to the hatching of the chicks. In addition, the females can supply  further males with full clutches of eggs during the incubation of the first clutch of eggs, this being known as Polyandry.

Dotterel Nest and Chicks

The nest location is usually a somewhat raised, dry and even place. Good all-round visibility and short vegetation are a priority. The nests are only slight hollows; a few are laid out it with plant material from the direct environment. In alpine nests lichen is mainly used as nest material.

A full clutch usually consists of three relatively large eggs, which are on average 42 millimeters × 28 mm.  They are a soily-brown to olive green colour, and exhibit a dark-brown to black flecking.   Within approximately 36 hours after the laying of the last egg, the male is the only one of the pair to incubate them intensively. The female is however frequently in the proximity of the nest, remaining in contact with the male and taking part in the protection of the eggs from enemies.

The chicks are led away from the nest by the male very soon after hatching.  This is often a very strenuous task  for the chick who last hatched, and can lead to losses of the younger birds.  The distance of travel on the first day after the last hatching is usually about 50 meters.  On the third day the family group can have already departed from the nest's location by a distance of over 700 meters and some 100 meters in elevation. Beginning at this time the male also drives out the female from the proximity of the chicks.  The period that the family stays together amounts to about 30 days, after which the group dissolves.

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