About the Hooded Plover
• Some Hooded Plover can live for up to 17 years.
• Hooded Plovers are not listed on Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act because there are 2000 of them living in Western Australia. However, the Western Australian population does not ever meet with the population of Hooded Plovers in eastern Australia, where the numbers are dangerously low. There are only 50 Hooded Plovers left in New South Wales, 400–450 in Victoria, 600–800 in South Australia and about 1000 in Tasmania.
• Hooded Plovers are threatened because people have changed the way the beaches are used.
• There are several birds which may sometimes nest on the beach, but only the Hooded Plover and the Beach Stone-curlew always nest on the beach because they have nowhere else to live.
• Hooded Plover eggs blend into the background because they look just like sand.
• Each Hooded Plover egg is about the same size as a 20 cent piece.
• The nest is a simple, shallow, bowl-like hollow in the sand.
• Nests can be anywhere above where the waves of the highest tides reach — either in the dry sand right on the beach, or in sand dunes behind the beach.
• Hooded Plovers are able to sometimes gather up their eggs after a giant wave has washed them out of the nest, and often these eggs are still able to hatch.
• Adult Hooded Plovers sit on the eggs for 28 days before they hatch.
• During the summer, the temperature of the sand can reach over 60°C. To keep their eggs cool, the parent birds sometimes take turns to walk down to the water’s edge, wet their bellies in the waves and then sit on the eggs.
• Adult Hooded Plovers never feed their chicks. Instead, the chicks have to feed themselves within an hour of hatching out of the egg.
• The chicks feed at the water’s edge, and they need a stretch of beach at least several hundred metres long to be able to find enough food to survive.
• The chicks cannot fly for five weeks (35 days) after hatching. This period, when they can only run away from threats, is when they are most in danger.
• Only 50% of chicks that fledge (learn to fly) survive their first year.
• When a predator (or a person) approaches a Hooded Plover’s nest, the parent bird runs away, leading the predator off so that the nest is out of harm’s way. The plover stops every so often so that the predator is able to keep up with them. Once the plover has led the predator far enough away from the nest, it flies back to the eggs or chicks, leaving the predator far away.
• Sometimes when ‘leading’ a predator, the parent bird pretends to have a broken wing, by dragging it along the ground. In this way it is trying to make itself attractive to the predator and seem easy to catch, so that the chicks will be left alone. Adult Hooded Plovers are fearless, and they do this to birds of prey, dogs, people, cats and foxes.
• When adult Hooded Plovers run away from their nest they often peck at the sand, pretending to feed. This is called ‘false pecking’. They act as though nothing is going on, pecking at the ground but at the same time they are watching you closely out of one eye. What great actors!
If you would like to know more about beach nesting birds or how to get involved CLICK HERE