Australian Bush Birds
Red-kneed Dotterel  -  Erythrogonys cinctus
Red-kneed Dotterel
Red-kneed Dotterel on waterhole near Brisbane
map map The Red-kneed Dotterel - Erythrogonys cinctus - has a black crown, nape and sides of the face; the rest of the upper parts are olive-brown. Underparts are white with a broad black band across the breast; flanks are chestnut, edged white. Flight feather are black with a broad white trailing edge. Tail is white with a dusky centre stripe. Eye is dark brown. Bill pink with black tip. Feet deep grey, legs mostly deep pink. Male and female similar. 18 centimetres.

Immature birds are plain mid-brown above, white below with faint brown breast band. Bill and feet dull. Downy young are grey above mottled gold and black, with white crescent behind head; white below.

Red-kneed dotterels live on inundated mud of temporary flooded areas inland. They are nomadic and loosely gregarious following shallow flood waters in loose groups of 50 of more, feeding mostly in shallow water, probing in the mud, sometimes submerging their heads in the mud. They swim very well, even chicks can swim, and run swiftly on long legs picking up beetles and other food. In response to alarms they bob the head, and body, then fly off low, weaving swiftly. They are unusual among dotterels in having a hind toe and no salt-secreting glands.

Found throughout inland Australia on shallow swamps and flooded areas with vegetation. Also found on coastal areas but rare in the east.

Breeding usually takes place from September to December but may take place in any month depending on rainfall. The nest is a small depression in the ground lined with dry herbage and situated near the edge of a swamp or lake, often sheltered by low scrub. Two to four eggs are laid; dull ochre-yellow, speckled with dark brown and black hair-like markings and blotches; pear-shaped, about 30 by 22 millimetres. Both sexes incubate the eggs.

 ¶  Genus Erythrogonys is in Family Charadriidae with Plovers, Lapwings and other Dotterels. This genus contains a single species.