Feigning a broken wing - Red-capped Dotterels

To: Gordon and Pam Cain <>,
Subject: Feigning a broken wing - Red-capped Dotterels
From: brian fleming <>
Date: Mon, 02 Apr 2007 10:17:00 +1000
Many years ago on my first visit on a BOC trip to the old Cheetham Saltworks at Point Cook (Vic) I saw a splendid 'broken-wing act' performed by a male Red-capped Dotterel (oh well, Plover if you insist).. We were in the first car going down a sandy track beside a channel, and we came up behind mother and father RC Dotterel escorting a tiny ball of fluff on legs - obviously very newly hatched. We drove very slowly to let them escape to the roadside, but they didn't. Mother escorted the chick and bustled it along, while father faced the car, alternately fluttering with a broken wing, limping pitifully while dragging a wing, or falling down dead. Attempts to gently shoo them off the road by a passenger who got out of the car didn't help either. We didn't want the parents to fly off in case they lost the chick altogether, with many Ravens, Kestrels and other predators about. Fortunately the road diverged away from the channel, and the Dotterels followed the channel. Sighs of relief all round. We were filled with admiration for the birds' courage and devotion.

Anthea Fleming

Gordon and Pam Cain wrote:

Back in January my son and I were pruning a hedge. We unwittingly got to
close to the nest of a spotted turtle dove with one young in the nest.

Mum flew off and, a safe distance down our yard, landed and feigned a broken
wing. We had only ever read of this in a Kipling Story with the Indian

How common is this behaviour? And amongst Australian birds?

(The sad ending to this story is that a few days later we found the baby
bird dead on the ground, although we had stayed right away from it after
rousing the mother from her nest - we never touched it or anything - but
then, I have read that pigeon young in the nest are especially vulnerable
and always to stay a LONG way from them. A sad way to learn!)

Interested in your stories and experiences, and the communal store of
knowledge on this one.


Gordon Cain


Blacktown, NW Sydney


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