The main THREATS to beach nesting birds are:
• If you get too close to a nest the adult bird will stay off its eggs while it tries to distract you and lead you away. If this happens on a day over 35°C, the tiny chicks inside the eggs will die within half an hour.
• When people playing at the water’s edge stay within 100 metres of a Hooded Plover’s nest, parent birds can't get to the water to wet their bellies, so they are not able to keep their eggs cool. Also, instead of feeding at the water’s edge, chicks will be hiding in the sand dunes instead, so they aren’t able to find food, and then they starve
• People sometimes ignore the warning signs and the fences, and they head into the sand dunes. It only takes one thoughtless person to accidentally crush some eggs or kill a chick by accidentally stepping on them.
• If dogs disturb an adult Hooded Plover while it is trying to sit on its eggs in the nest, the eggs may not hatch. Dogs also prevent chicks from feeding in the same way that people do. They can also accidentally crush eggs, just like people, or even eat them!
• People who take their cars onto the beach often drive in the dry sand where they can easily run straight over a nest or chicks without even knowing it.
Things you can do to HELP save beach-nesting birds are:
1. Beach-nesting birds use camouflage to keep their eggs and chicks safe. When you go to the beach, keep and eye out for Hooded Plovers and their eggs in the dry sand. Watch where you walk!
2. On a hot summer day, beach-nesting birds sit on their eggs to keep them cool. They keep their bodies cool by running down to the waves and dipping their bellies in the water. If you see the birds, move away quickly so they can get to the water. Staying at least 100 metres clear of a signed or fenced area where birds are nesting gives them a much greater chance of surviving.
3. Driving on the beach is a bad idea. Drivers kill baby birds because they are impossible to see, especially in the dry sand. Vehicles should stay on the road where they belong. If you absolutely have to drive along the beach, make sure you stick to the wet sand, down by the water’s edge, and keep the speed down so that chicks can run out of the way.
4. Dogs go sniffing around nests and will often tread on eggs or eat chicks. Dogs on beaches must wear leashes at all times.
5. Birds Australia places small wooden shelters on the beach to give the chicks a safe hiding place. This increases their chance of survival by up to 75%. Your school can get involved and make some chick shelters for Hooded Plovers.
CLICK HERE to find out more on the Birds Australia Beach-nesting birds page.