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Distribution and numbers of waders in New Zealand, 2005–2019

  • Publication Type

    Journal Article

  • Publication Year


  • Author(s)

    A.C. Riegen; P.M. Sagar

  • Journal Name


  • Volume, Issue

    67, 4

  • Pagination


  • Article Type



census; Charadriiformes; dotterel; oystercatcher; plover; population trend; sandpiper

Distribution and numbers of waders in New Zealand, 2005–2019

Notornis, 67 (4), 591-634

A.C. Riegen; P.M. Sagar (2020)

Article Type: Paper



The results of biannual national wader counts done during winter (June–July) and early summer (November– December) by the Ornithological Society of New Zealand (OSNZ)/Birds New Zealand from 2005 to 2019 are compared with similar counts done in 1983 to 1994. Although the national wader counts continued 1995–2004 the coverage was insufficient to enable comparable analyses; however, reference is made to some sites that were counted continuously since 1983. At least 1,567 counts at 74 sites nationally resulted in 3,977,228 waders of 39 species being counted. The numbers of most species have declined since the 1983–1994 surveys, particularly evident in the northern hemisphere migrants, with the numbers of some species down by 50% or more. Such changes in numbers are likely to be a true reflection of the declining populations rather than changes in the counting effort. Some native species are faring better, mostly as a result of numerous community-led wader protection projects for northern New Zealand dotterels (Charadrius obscurus aquilonius) and variable oystercatchers (Haematopus unicolor).