Family Plovers (Charadriidae)

Near Threatened

Northern Red-breasted Plover (Charadrius aquilonius)


French: Pluvier aquilonaire German: Strand-Maoriregenpfeifer Spanish: Chorlito maorí de Isla Norte

Charadrius obscurus aquilonius


, 1994,

Mangere International Airport, Auckland, New Zealand


Occasionally placed in Pluvialis, or this species and C. obscurus united in Pluviorhynchus. Has alternatively been linked with C. bicinctus. Only recently recognized taxonomically, on basis of differences in morphometrics, plumage, ecology and behaviour#R, but evidence suggests that differences are at specific level, with aquilonius smaller in size, notably in length of mid-toe and claw (from published data, effect size −2.93, score 2), yet tail marginally longer (effect size 0.42, score 1); notably paler above and below in breeding birds (2), and with greater amounts of white on face, chin and flanks (1); and nesting in coastal environments close to sea, with no nest-lining vs inland and mainly upland nesting (riverbeds, mountain tops, grassy plains) with nest lined (1). Treatment here as a species tentative and provisional, acknowledging possibility that strong clinal shift has been lost with loss of South I populations, although evidence for this may not now be recoverable#R. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

North I, New Zealand.

Descriptive notes

26–28 cm; 128–169 g; wingspan 46–50 cm. Large Charadrius with brown upperparts though feathers have paler fringes; white forehead and whitish underparts, with dark... read more


Rather silent. Most-frequently heard call a short reedy trilled “trrrt”, sometimes doubled. Also a... read more


Inhabits sandy beaches, sandbanks, shell banks, dunes; occasionally, stony beaches, sediment pools... read more

Food and feeding

Diet includes molluscs (e.g. Xenostrobus pulex, Atrina zelandica and Paphia subtriangulata, crustacea, amphipods... read more


Eggs late Aug (exceptionally late Jul or early Aug) to early Jan (once late Jan), with first clutches usually laid late Aug–Sept and... read more


Essentially sedentary, generally moving only short distance between breeding territory and post-... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Considered Near Threatened. Overall range estimated at 9800 km². Occurs sparsely on W coast, from about Taharoa N to North Cape, with a few pairs in... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Northern Red-breasted Plover (Charadrius aquilonius). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 January 2020).