The hooded plover is a stocky, medium-sized wading bird about 20cm long and approximately 100 gms in weight. They have a black ‘hood’, a white ‘collar’ across the back of the neck bordered at the base by a thin strip of black, a black stripe that extends across the base of the neck and shoulders to the sides of the breast, pale brownish-grey upper parts and white underparts.
The hooded plover is endemic to the southern states of Australia. There are 2 subspecies of Hooded Plover, the ‘eastern’ variety and the ‘western’ variety. The eastern subspecies is nationally listed as vulnerable, however the western species (Thinornis rubricollis tregellasi) is not listed.
The hooded plover occurs on the south-west Western Australian coast from Cape Naturaliste to Eyre, and on inland lakes as far north as lakes Cowan, Moore and Yalgorup. Hooded plovers may be observed singly, in pairs, family groups or flocks. The hooded plover inhabits ocean beaches and the edges of near-coastal and inland salt-lakes that may be hundreds of kilometres from the coast. It appears nomadic, forming flocks of hundreds on inland lakes in the early breeding season and forming very large non-breeding flocks near coastal salt-lakes.
It appears to move towards the coast in summer, which may be a response to the drying of wetlands, and return to inland wetlands following periods of rain. The hooded plover faces a number of threats, principally: human disturbance to nesting birds; crushing or disturbance of eggs and chicks by people, vehicles and livestock; and predation by invasive species such as dogs, cats, rats and foxes. Human activity (availability of food and rubbish) also increases the numbers of native scavengers such as silver gulls, ravens and currawongs which can reduce breeding success of the species.
As the hooded plover mostly breeds at more remote beaches and inland lakes, declines are mainly driven by habitat degradation arising from cattle grazing, and water abstraction for agriculture. Other issues facing inland lakes include pollution, drying from extended drought, and flooding of shoreline habitat due to rising water levels following clearing of vegetation.
SWCC Strategic Priority
The Hooded Plover is identified within SWCC’s NRM Strategy as a second order priority asset under the Coasts and Marine Environment themes.
Conservation Advice for Thinornis rubricollis tregellasi (hooded plover western)