Continued from Dotterel Plumage and the Bird's Name.
Food of the Dotterel
The food of the Dotterel consists mainly, but not
exclusively, of insects. It eats creatures from mosquito size to the size
of crickets, and seems to have a certain preference for hard armored kinds
of beetle, like Ground beetles and Weevils. Also the larvae of Click beetles
are happily consumed. In contrast, grasshoppers, butterflies or worms play
no substantial role.
In some wintering areas Dotterels nourish themselves
obviously mainly on different small kinds of snail. In small quantities
however the Dotterel regularly eats plant-derived food in the form of seeds
and berries. Small stones have been found in the stomachs of examined
birds, these being of assistance in the breaking down of food. The food is pecked from the ground, in regular
small feeding hunts by the bird, and also found on the wing in short flying
During the breeding searson a pair of Dotterels are
strictly territorial, but outside of this time the birds live together
in small informal groups, these groups often deing differentiated from
each other by age or gender. In the main areas of population within the
range of the polar circle, Dotterels are active during all 24 hours of
the day, but individual birds spend long periods resting and tending to
their plumage. In its alpine breeding areas the active phase of the
bird's day begins only about two hours after sunrise and ends roughly an
one hour before the sun sets.
A certain gender based role-reversal exists with the Dotterel
with respect to some behavior. In particular in the case of aggression,
some types of behaviour which are generally expected by the male are practised
more intensely by the female Dotterel. The females make aggressive
displays more frequently with their tail feathers, spreading of their wings
and presentation of the their chest plumage and ventral side. In rival
fights it can come to body contact and small bodily injuries.
The diversionary behavior of the Dottererl is particularly
interesting and pronounced. Depending upon the strength of the threat that
the bird feels, the species shows very different and expressive behaviors.
At feeling a small threat, the bird turns away from the intruder, showing
thereby a v-shape to the potential enemy. The next stage is marked by a
remarkable performance of running away, whereby the Dotterel often limps
and staggers, followed by rapid running, with one or both wings trailing
half fanned out along the ground. This is accompanied by cries as f the
bird is in pain or distress. If the Dotterel still cannot divert the intruder
from its nest or the Chicks it may be leading, it he presents a convulsion
of wings and legs and a trembling tail as if dying. Both genders show this
diversionary behavior, with the males being more expressive.