What are beach-nesting birds?
Many different types of birds live in Australia’s coastal areas – gulls, terns, cormorants and shorebirds, to name a handful – but only a few of them actually nest on the beach.
There are five species of Australian shorebirds and one Australian seabird which nest only or usually on the beach:
- Pied Oystercatcher
- Sooty Oystercatcher
- Beach Stone-curlew
- Red-capped Plover
- Hooded Plover
- Fairy Tern
We tend to think of beaches being covered in clean white sand, but not all beaches are sandy. Beach-nesting birds live on many different types of beaches. Sooty Oystercatchers prefer rocky coasts, where they search for food among the rocks. Pied Oystercatchers are more likely to be seen on sandy beaches where there are a few rocks about as well. Beach Stone-curlews usually live on sheltered beaches with muddy sand and mangroves growing nearby. Red-capped Plovers are often seen on sheltered muddy shores, but they also occur on sandy ones, and are abundant around wetlands, both saline and freshwater. Hooded Plovers (in their eastern range) only occur on sandy beaches that are exposed to the ocean swells and backed by sand dunes; of course, these beaches are where most people choose to go.
Beach-nesting birds, including Hooded Plovers, lay their eggs directly on the sand in a simple, shallow nest scrape. The nest can be anywhere above the high-tide mark, on the beach or in the dunes. Some other beach-nesting species, particularly oystercatchers, may also nest in rocky areas and on offshore islands.In Western Australia, they also nest inland around salt lakes and therefore have a different set of threats.
Why are beach-nesting birds threatened?
The greatest threat to Australia’s beach-nesting birds is disturbance from people visiting the beach. This disturbance is greatest in spring and summer, when beach-nesting birds usually lay their eggs, coinciding with the peak period of recreational use of beaches.
All Images by Mark Lethlean and information direct from Birdlife Australia
For more detailed information on the biology, threats and governmental status of Beach Nesting Birds, go to https://mybeachbird.com.au/