Hooded plover among birds aided by recovery program

19 March 2021

Vulnerable Hooded plover breeding rates have increased tenfold on parts of the Victorian and South Australian coast, thanks to the tireless efforts of an army of volunteers and a 15-year bird-recovery program, partly funded by the Australian Government.

The Hooded plover is just one beneficiary of Birdlife Australia’s successful Beach-nesting Birds Program, celebrating fifteen years of operation today. Other birds helped include the Pied oystercatcher, Sooty oystercatcher, Beach Stone-curlew, Red-capped plover and Fairy tern. 

The program is jointly funded through Birdlife Australia, state governments and a number of private philanthropic partners. The Australian Government has invested a total of $7.5 million over the life of the program.

Launched on a stretch of the Victorian coastline in 2006, the program started with a small band of 40 dedicated volunteers, recruited by Birdlife Australia, to help conserve Australia’s endemic beach-nesting birds.

It has since grown to an army comprising 1500 volunteers and 350 land managers. For 15 years, they have mobilised across beaches along the Australian coastline, collecting important data on native beach-nesting birds, erecting signage and fencing around vulnerable breeding sites and educating beach users to the birds’ presence.

Birdlife Australia’s Coastal Birds Program Leader Dr Grainne Maguire said: “We would like to thank the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment for their funding over the years.

“This collaboration shows how citizen science can generate real outcomes. It’s a tale of hope. The volunteers’ monitoring efforts help us better understand the threats these birds face, which then guide on-ground management efforts to alleviate these threats.

“The protection of breeding sites has resulted in tangible successes, where breeding rates of some birds such as the Hooded plover, have increased tenfold on busy beaches across Victoria and the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia.”

 “The efforts of our volunteers have helped halt the decline of the Hooded plover population and we are beginning to see it rebuild.

“The program works across thousands of kilometres of coastline. Achieving conservation success for beach-nesting birds would not be possible without a large and diverse network of participants, from regional NRM bodies and local councils, to coastal policy makers and academics.

“Listed as Vulnerable under national environment law, the Hooded plover is exclusively dependent on sandy ocean beach habitats. They lay their eggs in shallow scrapes in the sand, either on the upper beach or in adjacent backing sand dunes.

“Program volunteers have worked hard to raise awareness among beachgoers of this bird’s presence and to give the birds undisturbed space to successfully breed,” Dr Maguire said.

Key partners from within Victoria will gather today to celebrate at Point Nepean National Park on the Mornington Peninsula. Find out more here: www.birdlife.org.au/projects/beach-nesting-birds/news-feed-bnb