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Hooded Plovers Success – After Third Attempt

Cheryl Ferguson Articles, Global News, Plover Lovers Committee

The following was posted on the Hooded Plover Volunteers Facebook site. Hooded Plovers are endemic to Australia and are in serious decline. Their beach nesting requirements are similar to our Piping Plovers. Read about the unbelievable adaptation required by this pair to fledge 2 chicks after their 3rd breeding attempt.

Elizabeth Steele-Collins to Hooded Plover Volunteers

February 17 at 6:57am ·

 We always said it would be a miracle if any Hoodie chicks made it at Yilki… well, a miracle has happened!!

Despite all odds, the Yilki pair successfully fledged their 2 chicks on Valentines Day.

Yilki is definitely a very populated beach with threats/disturbances happening there 24/7. What was once the ‘dune’ now contains roads, houses, footpaths/bikeway and shops. Their nest was only a few metres from a main road/footpath/bikeway along the esplanade. Only a few metres further were the local shops and cafes… and then hundreds of houses. One of the busiest thoroughfares right on the Hoodies doorstep!

This was the 3rd breeding attempt this season for KV & partner, having lost all chicks from previous clutches. The pair have certainly worked hard… we think they definitely deserve a medal.

We have observed behaviour with this Hoodie pair/family we have never seen before:

1. KV & partner instead of nesting in the open, chose to have their last nest hidden amongst bushes (no clear visibility from any angle).
2. When the chicks were 1 week old the pair separated the brood… Mum was with 1 chick and Dad with 2 chicks on different locations on the beach (at times up to 750 metres apart). They remained separated for 1 week. When the chicks were 2 weeks old they reunited and the chicks continued to be brooded… often all 3 chicks together under either Mum or Dad.
3. The pair were both observed flying at and chasing a Nankeen Kestrel away when it dived down and tried to take a chick. The Kestrel made several attempts and the pair together were very vocal and (with the chicks told to hide) went to the attack and chased it away each time. A few days later they lost 1 chick although the cause is unknown.
4. The pair were also seen aggressively flying at an off-lead dog that came too close to the chicks and, together, they had a go at the dog and chased it away (feisty Hoodies this pair!).
5. What was really interesting is the fact the 2 chicks continued to be brooded every day until they were 4 weeks old… and that was both chicks under one bird (either Mum or Dad). This was something we’ve never seen before as chicks usually aren’t brooded much past 10-14 days by which time they are able to regulate their own body temperature.

This is the first time we have done so much chick wardening at Yilki… concentrated particularly during school holidays, weekends and public holidays. Raising awareness and engaging the public ‘one on one’ has been profitable. It’s been great to see this resulting in an increase of local support… with quite a few checking on the Yilki hoodies daily. A great effort by all the volunteers… our hard work has definitely paid off!