Australian Bush Birds
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Black-fronted Dotterel  -  Elseyornis melanops
Black-fronted Dotterel
Black-fronted Dotterel on the edge of Lake Bindegolly, SW Qld
Black-fronted Dotterel Black-fronted Dotterel
Left; white underside and grey-brown back makes the bird difficult to see from behind. Right; The black V-front is more visible in front view. Lake Bindegolly, SW Qld.
map map The Black-fronted Dotterel - Elseyornis melanops - is a small (16 to 18 centimetres long), plover with white chin, breast and underside with black Y-shaped breast band. Face is white; bill is red with a black end; there is a red eye-ring in a broad black band from the base of the bill to behind the head. Feet are pink. A small black patch above the bill and between the eyes merges with the streaky brown crown. White line over eye extends back to nape. Back is grey-brown with dark horizontal shoulder bar of purplish brown.

Male and female similar. Immatures are paler than adults and lack the breast band.

Inhabits the firm wet edges of fresh water streams, dams, swamps and lakes. Short legs and short bill suit it for running and pecking food from damp shoreline surfaces without wading. Rarely found in coastal saline waters or tidal mudflats. Much of the water it relies on is temporary and the bird is necessarily nomadic. When foraging the body is horizontal and the head bobs; it runs quickly, stops briefly to peck at food then runs again.
Black-fronted Dotterel - page 2


Although many dotterels may live in a swamp or around a lake, they are not communal, feeding alone or in pairs. They nest in solitary territories.

Found over most of Australia, including Tasmania, except for parts of inland Western Australia.

Nesting takes place from September to December in the south and May to September in the north; any time inland after rain. The nest is a small depression on bare caked mud or on a small bank, often among stones in a riverbed; nest is lined with mud pellets, stones, shells or broken twigs. Two or three eggs are laid; dull green-grey or stone-coloured, speckled dusky, oval, about 29 mm by 20 mm. Incubation (by both parents) takes about 26 days.

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