Published on 21 December 2023

Hopes for record number of Hooded Plover fledglings

A near-record number of Hooded Plover chicks have learned to fly during this year’s breeding season.

Four chicks have now officially become fledglings – they’ve learned to fly – raising hopes that 2023-24 will be a record-breaking season for Hooded Plover fledglings.

The previous record, documented over the last five years, was five fledglings in 2020-21.

The newest fledgling is the first chick to take flight south of Snapper Point on Aldinga Beach in more than eight years.

The fledgling joins three other young flyers from the northern end of Aldinga Beach, including the fledgling nicknamed Lighty, South African slang for ‘youngster’.

Hooded Plovers, who nest above the high-tide line on Australia’s southern coastline, are the nation’s most threatened beach-nesting birds. They are considered a vulnerable species.

There are fewer than 70 hoodies across Adelaide and the Fleurieu Peninsula, and only 500 to 800 in South Australia.

The Hooded Plover breeding season is August to March, which is the time of greatest human activity on beaches.

According to Nikola Manos, Nature Conservation Officer at the City of Onkaparinga, local Hooded Plover populations have seen a very low number of chicks making it to fledgling status.

In 2018-19, there were no fledglings, despite 11 chicks hatching from 54 eggs. In 2021-22, only three fledglings survived out of 19 chicks hatched from 66 eggs.

“It’s terrific we already have four fledglings so far this breeding season,” says Nikola.

“Keeping the Hooded Plovers safe is a priority and the responsibility of everyone who visits our beaches.

“We thank local dog walkers who have kept their dogs leashed at all times and vehicle drivers who have kept their distance from breeding sites. They have helped keep our chicks and fledglings safe.”

Hooded Plovers are medium-sized, pale brownish-grey birds found on Australia’s southern coastlines.

To breed, Hooded Plovers create nests above the high-tide mark on beaches or among dunes by digging shallow indentations in sand or fine gravel.

Hooded Plovers lay up to three eggs, which take 28 days to hatch. The parents take turns sitting on the nest but will leave it if disturbed.

Breeding zones are protected by a new council by-law.

Dogs are prohibited within 20 metres of a nesting site and must be on leads within 100 metres of sites. Vehicles must be at least 20 metres from sites.

The sites are regularly patrolled by the council’s Community Rangers and observed by local volunteers. Signs are located at most breeding sites, including dog-on-leash signs.

Beach visitors can protect Hooded Plovers and their breeding sites by:

  • placing dogs on leads within 100 metres of breeding sites
  • walking by the water’s edge
  • driving slowly on beaches and keeping at least 20 metres from sites
  • watching out for Hooded Plovers at all times, even in areas where there are no signs identifying sites.

“We would love to see a record number of fledglings take to the sky this year,” says Nikola.

“We encourage everyone to help protect these precious birds through the whole breeding season.”

See the council’s website for more information, including on current active breeding sites.


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Hooded Plover Lighty - opening wings Aldinga.jpg