Like for all of us, choosing a good place to live is pretty important for Hoodies. Because Hoodies live in such harsh environments and have so many threats to deal with, they often have to move between several different types of habitat.

There are also differences in the types of habitats available to Hoodies in different parts of their range (so much so that Eastern and Western populations have evolved into distinct subspecies).

The first step to understanding what makes good Hoodie habitat is to think a little bit like they do...

Basically Hoodies need a place to:

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Lay their eggs Feed their chicks Feed themselves Shelter their chicks Flock together


... and it’s these things that drive where you’re likely to find Hoodies.

See below to find out about the different habitats Hoodies live in and what they do there.



 Beaches - the sand between the water and the dunes - are critical for all aspects of a Hoodies life.

Beaches can be narrow or very wide, flat or really steep. What makes a beach suitable for Hoodies to breed on can’t always be easily ascertained, but once a pair finds a good spot they generally stick to it - Hoodies often breed on the same beach for many, many years.

Hoodies will lay beach nests on the dry sand anywhere between the high tide mark and the dunes.

Actually, because tides vary so much, hoodies sometimes lay their nests too low on the beach and they get washed away. This is particularly common in spring when there are lots of storms around.


Beaches are also usually the primary feeding habitat for Hoodies, and food availability is a major consideration for the birds as to whether a beach is suitable for breeding. For example, some beaches may look ideal for Hoodie breeding, lots of nice sand, plenty of dunes etc., but if they lack food then where will the chicks feed?

This is where the importance of what’s happening under the water becomes as important as what’s above it. Lots of beach-cast seaweed and/or intertidal rock platforms are a good indication that a beach will have enough food for hungry chicks.

Beaches are highly dynamic environments. Particularly on southern facing coastlines where waves, storms and tides move huge amounts of sand.



So while a beach may be flat and wide one year (and thus potentially) good for nesting, it may be eroded, steep and unsuitable the


Sandy dunes


Sand dunes are the areas of sand above the beach. Sand dunes can range from very small (just a few metres wide) to massive; some dune systems in South Australia are 10 kilometres wide!


Dunes provide places to lay eggs and are also good places for chick to hide, they do mot have any food for Hoodies though.

Not all Hoodies use sand dunes - some aren't fortunate enough to have a dune system on their beach, others have so much space on the beach there’s no need to go into the dunes. But for a significant number of Hoodies, sand dunes are critical.


Birds generally nest relatively close to the beach, but they can also lay nests several hundred meters back into dune systems.

Like the beach, dunes are dynamic; sand constantly moves, vegetation colonises and erodes and whole dunes can disappear and reappear over time.


Dunes can be shallow and flat or steep and/or very tall. As long as there is some bare sand around though, even very small dunes can be suitable places for Hoodies to lay nests.

Some dunes are way too vegetated and are not suitable habitat for Hoodies to breed. This can be natural vegetation or dunes can be covered with weeds.


Either way, if most of a dune is dune is covered with vegetation it’s unlikely to be suitable nesting habitat for Hoodies.


Rocky headlands and islands

It’s not the preferred habitat for most hoodies, but occasionally birds will nest on small rocky islands or headlands at the end of beaches.

However, while the eggs are incubated on the rocky island or headland, chicks still need to be raised on the beach - where their food is!


Sandy estuaries

Hoodies can be found around estuaries during any stage of their life. Estuaries are actually one of the most favoured habitats for breeding because they often have nice large sand spits to lay a nest on and there’s also lots of food around river mouths.


Because estuaries only occur where a river or stream meets the sea though, they are not that many of them along the coast.


Inland Salt Lakes (Western Hooded Plover)

Western Hooded Plovers can be found breeding in all of the aforementioned habitats; however they most frequently breed on the shores of salt lakes - both coastal and inland. Like their Eastern cousins, Western Hoodies prefer to lay nests in open areas close to the shorelines of lakes.

Inland Salt Lakes are also the places where Hoodies in the west spend most of their winters.


Coastal salt lakes

While Eastern Hoodies do not breed on coastal salt lakes, they do often feed in these areas, particularly during their non-breeding period. Sometimes large flocks can gather during winter like the group below, which were part of a 51 bird flock in south-western Victoria!


These lakes are usually part of an estuaries or are at least very close to the ocean. Eastern Hooded Plovers do not occur at Inland Salt Lakes.

What does your hoodie’s favourite nesting habitat look like?

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