An Eco-sustainable World
BirdsSpecies Animal

Charadrius morinellus

Charadrius morinellus

The Eurasian dotterel (Charadrius morinellus, Linnaeus 1758) is a bird belonging to the Charadriidae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Animalia,
Phylum Chordata,
Subphylum Vertebrata,
Aves class,
Order Charadriiformes,
Family Charadriidae,
Genus Charadrius,
C. morinellus species.
The terms are synonyms:
– Charadrius morinellus Aerc Tac, 2003;
– Charadrius morinellus subsp. morinellus Dowsett & Forbes-Watson, 1993;
– Eudromias morinellus (Linnaeus, 1758).

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Charadrius morinellus is a migratory bird that breeds in Northern Europe and Eurosiberia and migrates south to North Africa and the Middle East in winter.
The reproductive area is Euro-Siberian boreoalpine, with two latitudinal belts: a northern one which extends mainly in arctic tundra zones from Scotland through northern Scandinavia up to the eastern end of Siberia, and a southern one in arctic-alpine zones, formed by nuclei with an irregular presence on the Pyrenees, Alps, Apennines, Carpathians, Caucasus and regular in the area going from Kazakhstan and from north-western China to Mongolia.
One of the nesting habitats is that of the rocky summit grasslands with low and discontinuous vegetation, dominated by Carex levis and Sesleria tenuifolia on the Maiella and by Carex curvula on the Alps, between 2,000-2,500 m of altitude.
The winter habitat is semi-desert.

Description –
Charadrius morinellus is a small wader with a total length of 20 – 22 cm, a wingspan of 57 – 64 cm, for a weight of 86 – 142 grams.
The adults in summer are unmistakable, with a chestnut chest edged in white above, a black belly and a warm-brown back.
The winter pattern lacks the rich underside coloration, apart from the white breast line, and are grayer above. Young birds are similar, but have a scaly appearance on their backs. Furthermore, the female has a more lively coloration than the male.
It has rather long legs, yellowish in color.
The beak is small and black and has a large creamy-white eyebrow extended up to the nape of the neck, until it joins the one on the opposite side to form a very characteristic “V”.

Biology –
Charadrius morinellus is a bird that breeds in the arctic tundra of northern Eurosiberia, from Norway to eastern Siberia, and on suitable mountainous plateaus such as the Scottish highlands and the Alps.
The reproductive areas are usually reached in May, as soon as the first grass emerges from the snow, but where they can reproduce until August.
The very short Arctic summer does not allow much time and a few days after their arrival, the parades, couplings and depositions immediately took place. Everything happens quickly, taking advantage of the very long arctic days and the great availability of food (insects).
The eggs laid vary from 1 to 4 but usually 3.
There is only one brood and brooding usually lasts 24-28 days, done by the male and with the female going to look for another male to lay another brood of eggs.
The fledging takes place after 25-30 days and at the end of July the chicks are fully grown and able to fly; they therefore begin to prepare for the migration that will take them above all to northern Africa and the Middle East while only a few specimens will winter in Italy.
The maximum known age in the wild: 11 years and 9 months.
The song in flight is a soft pyurr; The song of the female is a simple and repetitive whistle.

Ecological role –
Charadrius morinellus has no subspecies, it is monotypic.
Its diet consists of insects and other small invertebrates such as snails, worms and crustaceans. These are achieved with a run and pause technique, rather than the constant probing used by other waders.
This bird is quite common over a large range above the equator. In Italy, nests have been found only in the central regions above 2000 m a.s.l.; it is however visible during the migrations and its preferential habitats are made up of open spaces. However populations appear to be declining slowly, but not alarmingly, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified it as a “species of least concern”. A survey published in 2015 showed a decline in numbers of this species in Scotland between 1987 and 2011, from 980 to 423 breeding males, a decline of 57%. The Agreement on the Conservation of Afro-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds applies to this species.
It is listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC). In Italy it is a particularly protected species under Article 2 of Law 157/92.
Still in Italy, the number of mature individuals is estimated at 2-10 and the trend of the Italian population is stable or has recently decreased (BirdLife International 2004, Brichetti & Fracasso 2004). In Italy, the species is therefore classified as Critically Endangered (CR) due to the small number of mature individuals (criterion D). In Europe it is considered stable and safe (BirdLife International 2004), therefore there is the possibility of immigration from outside the region and that this will continue in the near future. For these reasons, the species was downgraded to Vulnerable (VU) in the final assessment.

Guido Bissanti

– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– C.Battisti, D. Taffon, F. Giucca, 2008. Atlas of nesting birds, Gangemi Editore, Rome.
– L. Svensson, K.Mullarney, D. Zetterstrom, 1999. Guide to Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Near East, Harper Collins Publisher, UK.

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