To those in the know, Hoodies are very distinctive shorebirds. However for those “new to the game” identifying Hoodies (particularly certain aged birds) can be a little tricky. But if you know what to look for you should have no problems.

Adult Hoodies (as they’re name suggests) all have a really distinctive black “hood”. But it takes Hoodies a while to develop that black head feathers that form the hood, so Hoodies of all aged (even newborn chicks) have a white nape (back of the neck). This distinguishes Hooded Plovers from all other shorebirds.

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Similar shorebirds

Double-banded Plover

Similar size to Hoodies. Non-breeding migrant from New Zealand, present here in autumn/winter only. Double-banded Plovers feed on ocean beaches and other shores from South Australia, Victoria, NSW and sthn Queensland.

No black hood, but can be confused with juvenile Hooded Plover but has no white nape.

Most Double-banded Plovers seen in Australia are in non-breeding plumage, however sometimes birds will colour-up while they are here. In this case they have black upper band and a wider chestnut lower band across their chests.

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Red-capped Plover

Endemic Australian shorebird, smaller than Hoodies.

No black hood and smaller, but female and juvenile Red-capped Plovers can be confused with juvenile Hooded Plovers, but no white nape present.

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Red-capped Plover chicks and eggs do look very similar to those of Hoodies...

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...and Red-capped Plovers do also breed on beaches - sometimes the same ones as Hoodies - see other beach-nesting birds.

Masked Lapwing

A much larger and more obvious bird with totally different behaviours, Masked Lapwings nonetheless still get confused with Hooded Plovers!

Masked Lapwings are much larger, noisier, differently coloured, have a whopping great yellow mask and wattles on their face and generally look nothing like a Hoodie.

Chicks and eggs can appear similar, but if you are near either, the Masked Lapwing parents will more than likely be making a huge noise “screeching” at you and possibly even dive bombing you!

Click to enlarge

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Masked Lapwings sometimes breed beaches - see other beach-nesting birds.

Red-kneed Dotterel

You’re very unlikely to see a Red-kneed Dotterel on a beach so these birds don’t really provide much confusion in the east. However in the west - where Hoodies often live around lakes there is a bit more chance of the two species co-occurring.

Red-kneed Dotterels have a black hood, similar to “Hoodies” and are a similar size, but they don’t have a white nape.

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When is a Hoodie not a Hoodie?

People often assume all Hooded Plovers are the same. Of course every bird is different (anybody who’s spent any time the birds can tell you stories of their their highly individual personalities), but there are also broader difference between Hoodies in the east and west of Australia.

Eastern and Western Hoodies are actually distinct, isolated populations (see the where page). The two populations probably became isolated from one another a long time ago (thousands of years perhaps), and over time they’ve become more and more different, in the way they behave, where they lay their nests, how far they fly and even how they look.

Given what we know about movements of eastern and western Hoodies, you’re unlikely to see Eastern and Western Hooded Plovers in the same location...

... But, if you are unsure, western Hoodies usually have substantially more black on their back than Eastern Hoodies - so you can tell them apart.

Western Hooded Plover (Photo: Marcus Singor).
Note the black on the birds back.


Eastern Hooded Plover


For a great identification sheet on all Australia’s shorebirds go to .