the REAL Red-capped Plover A Beautiful Coastal Bird

Red-capped plover on the beach

The Red-capped Plover A Fascinating Australian Bird with a Bright Future Ahead

The Red-capped plover, also known as the Red-capped Dotterel, is a stunning bird native to Australia. Its scientific name, Charadrius ruficapillus, reflects its distinctive red head and neck plumage, with “ruficapillus” meaning “red-headed” in Latin.

One of the most striking physical characteristics of the Red-capped plover is its bright red head and neck, which stand out in stark contrast to its otherwise gray and white plumage. The bird is quite small, with a wingspan of around 12 inches and weighing in at just over an ounce. In addition to its red head and neck, the Red-capped plover is also distinguished by its black beak and legs.

The underparts and forehead of red-capped plovers are white. Their upper parts are predominantly grey-brown. The crown and hindneck of adult males are rufous or reddish-brown. The crown and hindneck of adult females are paler rufous and grey-brown, with a pale loreal stripe.

The breeding plumage is red-brown with black margins on the crown and nape. The immature non-breeding plumage is duller and does not have the black margins until maturity.


The Red-capped plover is found in a variety of habitats throughout Australia, The species lives in a variety of coastal and inland habitats, such as estuaries, bays, beaches, sandflats, and mudflats, as well as inland saline wetlands. It is also found in bare ground inland wetland areas.


The diet of the Red-capped plover consists primarily on small invertebrates, particularly molluscs, crustaceans, and worms.


When it comes to reproduction, the Red-capped plover is a monogamous species. Mating pairs often form long-term relationships, with both males and females participating in the nesting and rearing of young. The red-capped plover is a seasonal breeder on Australia’s coasts.  The plover builds its nest on the ground in a small depression with little or no lining. The clutch consists of two pale yellowish-brown eggs with black spots. The incubation period is 30 days, with the female doing the majority of the work. The young are open-eyed, mobile, and relatively mature when they hatch; they flee the nest shortly after birth.


In terms of behavior, the Red-capped plover is a vocal and energetic bird. It is known for its distinctive “keeweek” call, which is often heard during the breeding season. The bird is also known for its elaborate courtship displays, during which males will puff out their chest feathers and perform elaborate dance-like movements to attract a mate.


Despite its wide distribution and generally abundant population, the Red-capped plover is classified as a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, the bird does face some threats, including habitat loss and degradation, as well as predation by introduced species such as cats and foxes.

Conservation Status

Efforts are being made to protect and conserve the Red-capped plover, including habitat restoration projects and breeding programs. In addition, education campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the importance of protecting the bird’s habitat are also being undertaken.

As a beloved and iconic species of Australian birdlife, the Red-capped plover is an important part of the country’s natural heritage. With continued conservation efforts, we can ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the beauty and antics of these fascinating birds.