Hooded plover project
Hooded plovers (Thinornis rubricollsi) are a small- to medium-sized coastal shorebird.
When hoodie chicks first hatch they are no bigger than a 50 cent piece!
Adult hoodies have a black ‘hood’, hence the name. Chicks develop theirs over time.
Number of hooded plovers across the state
Hooded plovers are listed as vulnerable nationally. There are less than 70 hoodies across Adelaide and the Fleurieu Peninsula and across the whole state, only 500 to 800 in total.
These hoodies along our Adelaide and Fleurieu beaches are considered one population and will travel between beaches in both areas. Over the last decade, our work to save hooded plovers has shown success, with birds coming to nest along Adelaide’s beaches, where they once lived.
The challenges of being a hooded plover
When they nest
Hooded plovers live on our beaches year-round, but their breeding season is August to March, meaning they nest on the beach during the busiest time of year – spring and summer.
Where they nest
They nest at the base of the dunes, on the dry sand, in a shallow nest scrape (a little dent in the sand). Their eggs blend into the sand, helping hide them from predators. This makes them hard for beach-goers to see and easy for them to be accidentally crushed. Nesting here gives the parents and chicks ready access to the water’s edge and beach wrack (plants like seaweed washed up on the beach) where they can find food.
Incubating the eggs
It takes 28 days for the eggs hatch. The parents take turns sitting on the nest but will leave it if disturbed or threatened by vehicles, dogs, humans, foxes and other predators. Their eggs may also be washed away by storms or stolen by predators.
Raising their chicks
It takes 35 days before the teeny tiny chicks can fly. They follow their parents around during this time but have to get their own food. This means making their way to the water’s edge – a challenged on a packed beach!
Teenage (juvenile) plovers
Once hooded plover chicks can fly their odds of survival are greatly increased but it’s still not a guarantee. At the end of the breeding season, adults become less territorial and flocks can be seen at many local beaches. But come the next breeding season, the young birds may not be welcome back.
Fences and shelters on the beach
During the breeding season (around August to March), temporary signs and rope fences may be used on the beach to protect nests and chicks.
Fences help give hoodies the space they need to raise their families but they still need to go outside of this safe space to get to the water’s edge to feed.
Small shelters may be placed outside of the fenced off area to help protect chicks from extreme heat and predators.
The best thing to do if you see any of these things is to keep your distance.
Easy ways to help hooded plovers survive
You can help protect hooded plovers by:
- keeping your dog on a leash when at the beach – especially during spring and summer
- only walking below the high tide mark during the nesting season
- not driving on the beach or dune areas
- looking out for signs and fences, indicating there is a nest or chicks!
- moving away quietly when you see hooded plovers
- spreading the word about beach-nesting birds!
If you spot a hooded plover, report your sighting to our Sharing our Shores with Coastal Wildlife team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become a volunteer
Protecting the hooded plover could not be done without the many wonderful BirdLife Australia volunteers.
These volunteers chat to beach-goers to spread awareness about the birds, monitor nests, record data, and put up signs and fencing. Check out the video below to learn more about the work they do.
Read about the BirdLife Australia Beach-nesting Birds Program here.
The Hooded Plover Program is part of BirdLife Australia’s national beach-nesting bird program and is supported regionally by Green Adelaide, Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu, local councils and volunteers