Miracle birds

Hooded Plovers are brave, funny, unlucky, lucky and I’m very fond of them. Catching a glimpse of these small shorebirds is a delight as they are an endangered species and threatened by many natural and man-made threats.


Hooded Plovers are sedentary and steadfastly try to raise their families on beaches used by humans, it’s a shame that their breeding season coincides with the heightened human activity during the holiday season.


 Hooded Plover (Thinornis rubricollis) nest with three eggs
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 100, focal length 400mm


The nest above was so well camouflaged that it was difficult to see even with a ranger pointing towards it. I recently registered as a volunteer to help monitor Hooded Plover breeding activity. There is a dedicated team that undertakes bird-banding, erects signage, produces literature and generally promotes the species. When a nest is discovered volunteers put up an information board and install temporary fencing around the nest site.


 Hooded Plover nest with three eggs
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 100, focal length 400m


Threats to the nest include humans, dogs, ravens, Pacific Gulls, Kelp Gulls and high tides or storm surges. The eggs are incubated in the shallow scrape that serves as a nest for 30 days and the tiny hatchlings, like fluffy marshmallows, leave the nest within a day or two. The eggs and hatchlings are highly vulnerable. Even people walking along the waterline, as requested on the information boards, can cause the adults to scurry away from the nest: eggs and hatchlings can be lost on hot days due to overheating and dehydration. Dogs bounding along the dunes fill me with concern for the survival of eggs and nestlings. It is a miracle that these birds continue to live on beaches used by humans.


Adult Hooded Plovers can be seen at It’s all about the light. Hopefully one day I’ll have more images of juveniles to share with you.

Happy birding, Kim





2 comments to Miracle birds

  • Tam

    People shouldn’t be walking their dogs near their nests! Looking forward to the baby photos

    • lirralirra

      I totally agree but some believe they have the right to walk their dogs, or let them run in the dunes, regardless of the miles of beach where that is welcomed and regardless of the plight of the hoodies. I’m very much hoping to get more photos of juveniles this year, I’ll do my best.

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