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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Eaardkius Ruficapillus. — (Red-Capped Dottrel.)

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Eaardkius Ruficapillus.
(Red-Capped Dottrel.)

  • Charadrius reficapillus, Temm. Pl. Col. vol. v. pl. 47. fig. 2 (1838).

  • Hiaticula ruficapilla, Gould, Birds of Austr. fol. vol. vi. pl. 17 (1848).

  • Ægialopillus ruficapillus, Gould, Handb. Birds of Austr. vol. ii. p. 235 (1865).

Ad. pallidè cinerascenti-brunneus, alarum tectricibus vix pallidioribus, majoribus albo terminatis: alâ spuriâ, tectricibus primariorum et remigibus fuscescenti-brunneis, scapis albis, secundariis intimis dorso concoloribus: supracaudalibus saturatùs brunneis, lateralibus albis: rectricibus medianis saturatè brunneis, proximis pallidioribus albo marginatis, reliquis albia: pileo et collo postico pallidè cinnamomeis: fronte albâ, postice nigro faaciatâ: strigâ lorali et fasciâ supraparoticâ nigris: subalaribus quoque albis, imis majoribus cinerascentibus.

Adult male. Forehead crossed by a broad band of white, which diminishes to a point at the posterior angle of the eye; above this a narrow band of black; crown, nape, and back of neck bright rust-red; a line of black from the gape extending across the eyes and down the sides of the neck, forming an edging to the rust-red colour; back, rump, and upper surface of wings pale greyish brown, each feather margined with a lighter tint; tail-feathers white, except the two middle ones which are brown; throat, fore neck, and entire under surface pure white. Irides and bill black; legs and feet greyish black. Total length 5·75 inches; wing, from flexure, 4; tail ·9; bill, along the ridge ·6, along the edge of lower mandible ·7; bare tibia ·4; tarsus 1; middle toe and claw ·75.

Female. Differs from the male only in the paler tints of the plumage.

Obs. Some specimens have a faint wash of fulvous on the breast and sides of the body.

Of this Dottrel, which is widely distributed along the shores of Australia, a single straggler has been recorded in New Zealand*. This was obtained on the ocean-beach near Waikanae, in the North Island, and the specimen (from which the above description of the adult male was taken) is now in the Colonial Museum at Wellington.

Like many other members of the extensive family to which it belongs, this species resorts to very clever devices for the purpose of diverting attention from its nest and young, feigning lameness or a crippled wing, and simulating, in a very remarkable manner, the actions of a partially disabled or wounded bird.

Mr. Gould describes the eggs as being one and a quarter inches in length by seven eighths of an inch in breadth, and of a pale stone-colour, sprinkled all over with small irregular blotches of brownish black.

* T. W. Kirk, Trans. N.-Z. Inst. vol. xii. p. 246.