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Hooded plover project

23 Feb 2023 - Read our latest news about this summer's successful hoodie fledglings

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.

Hooded plover project
Hooded plover parents and chick next to a seagull. Photo: Michelle Sawyer

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.

Hooded plover project
Hooded plover eggs are camouflaged well, making them hard for predators – but also beachgoers – to see. Photo: Kerri Bartley.

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.

Hooded plover project
One day old chick sheltering from the weather and predators. Photo: Kerri Bartley

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 sharingourshores@birdlife.org.au.

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.

Why not join the team?

Hooded plover project
Join the team looking out for hoodies on our coast. Photo: Tony Flaherty.

The Hooded Plover project is jointly coordinated by Green Adelaide, Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board and BirdLife Australia, with support from local councils, and is funded by Green Adelaide and the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board, through funding from the Australian Government.

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