Many different types of birds live in Australia’s coastal areas, but only a few species actually nest on the beach: the Australian Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris), Sooty Oystercatcher (H. fuliginosus), Beach Stone-curlew (Esacus giganteus), Red-capped Plover (Charadrius ruficapillus), and the Vulnerable Hooded Plover (Thinornis cucullatus). Unfortunately, living on beaches and dunes puts these birds at high risk from disturbance due to human activity. Their small, well-camouflaged eggs are easily trodden on by accident, while birds fleeing from humans may be less able to forage, or to successfully incubate their eggs.
BirdLife Australia’s Beach-nesting Birds Project is working with a dedicated team of volunteers and coastal land managers to raise awareness about beach-nesting birds, and to protect vulnerable eggs and chicks. A range of mitigation measures have been developed with an ongoing research program tracking the effectiveness of these management strategies and investigating new ways of protecting birds and improving breeding success.
Research from the project has shown that management of breeding pairs and nest sites can significantly boost breeding success for beach-nesting birds, even on highly threatened beaches. Another highlight of the research program is the biennial Hooded Plover Count, which sees hundreds of volunteers’ team up to survey thousands of kilometres of ocean beach, assessing the health of Hooded Plover populations.