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Rufous-chested Dotterel Charadrius modestus


The Rufous-chested Dotterel in breeding plumage is an absolute stunner! A brown crown contrasts with an absolutely white supercilium, which in turn contrast with a gray face and throat. Below the breast of this small plover is a glowing orange-red, highlighted on its lower edge by a black band, otherwise it is entirely white below. The mix of colors and strong contrasts creates an absolutely elegant look, it is an absolutely gorgeous bird. During the breeding season this plover retreats to the southernmost part of Patagonia, including Tierra del Fuego, where it breeds in almost a tundra-like moist mossy steppe; quite different from the taller grassy steppe common in the area. While breeding this species is inconspicuous although it launches itself into the air to perform an energetic aerial display at times. As soon as the young hatch and begin to fend for themselves, some adults leave the inland breeding areas and head to the coast. Their northbound migration is early, with some venturing to south-central Chile by February, the mid-summer, mirroring the early migrations of Boreal shorebirds. In the Austral winter this species is a duller gray, and common throughout the coasts of the southern cone, often in small flocks.

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© Andrew Spencer

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Rufous-chested Dotterel (Charadrius modestus), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: