Hooded Plovers

A pair of Hooded Plovers walking past a pile of seaweed on the beach.

Save the Hoodie!

Fast facts
  • Without human assistance, Hoodies have only a 2.5% chance of survival from egg to fully fledged adult.
  • Hoodie chicks have one of the lowest survival rates of any species at 1 in every 100 chicks.
  • Hoodies have a 90-95% nest failure rate. Pairs will often have more than four failed nest attempts in one breeding season.
  • Hoodie survival rates are so low that it is exceedingly difficult for their species to sustain their populations.
It's hard being a hoodie

Between September and March each year, these shy little birds engage in a long and dangerous battle to raise their families on Australia’s beaches.

Hoodies nest along our beaches during the busy summer months, creating competition for space with humans and our pets. The breeding habits of the Hoodie mean that they are in direct conflict with not only humans and dogs, but also introduced predators such as foxes and cats.

Additionally, they lay their eggs on the beach above the high tide level, where people like to walk their dogs or lay their towels to sunbake.

Any disturbance from people or animals can drive the adult birds away from their chicks in the nest or block them from leaving the nest to feed near the water. Their eggs are almost impossible to see, which makes them quite easy to step on. On top of all that, the chicks are tiny, fragile and defenseless, making them extremely vulnerable to threats.

The good news

Between 1990 - 2000, the Hoodie population in Victoria declined to approximately 400 birds, causing major alarm for those monitoring the population. However, due to the tireless work of volunteers, there are now an estimated 700 - 750 Hooded Plovers residing in Victoria.

Hoodies are slowly returning to beaches where they have not been seen for 15 years. The increase in numbers is thanks to the dedication of individuals, communities and groups such as BirdLife Australia. This organisation has been responsible for coordinating the statewide and national recovery of the Hooded Plover, supported by land managers such as the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority, Parks Victoria and the City of Greater Geelong.

The success of the program is due in no small part to the ongoing commitment of hundreds of volunteers across Victoria, including local volunteers such as the Friends of the Hooded Plover Surf Coast.

Work undertaken to protect Hoodies and increase chick survival rates includes:

  • Undertaking education and awareness campaigns (including how dog walkers can safely share beaches)
  • Maintaining signage Installing temporary fencing around nesting areas
  • Erecting wooden shelters for chicks
  • Assisting with volunteer monitoring programs.

Hooded Plover breeding zones

The land we currently manage along the Great Ocean Road has 11 known breeding zones for Hooded Plovers:

Breeding Zone 1: Point Impossible

Shorebird Protection Zone. Dogs must be on a led at all times. Horse riding must comply with permit conditions.

Breeding Zone 2: Point Roadknight

No dogs allowed at any time. There are $148 on the spot fines for any person walking a dog in this zone.

Breeding Zone 3: Point Roadknight To O'Donohues

Dogs off-lead area. When there is a nest or chicks on the beach, please comply with signage, put dogs on a lead and walk at the water’s edge.

Breeding Zone 4: Painkalac Creek To Fairhaven

Dogs off-lead area. When there is a nest or chicks on the beach, please comply with signage, put dogs on a lead and walk at the water’s edge.

Breeding Zone 5: Moggs Creek

Dogs off-lead area. When there is a nest or chicks on the beach, please comply with signage, put dogs on a lead and walk at the water’s edge.

Breeding Zone 6: Lorne Foreshore

Exclusion Zones

Exclusions Zones are utilised to protect wildlife when breeding or resting on our beaches. Depending on the situation Exclusion Zones regulations may apply to no dogs OR no dogs and humans. Signage will describe who/what is excluded from the area.

Breach of exclusion zones regulations fall under the Wildlife Reg 2013 – Penalties apply. 


Breeding Zone 7: Sugarloaf Creek

Please keep your dog on-lead.

Breeding Zone 8: Browns Creek

Please keep your dog on-lead.

Breeding Zone 9: Thomas Corner

Please keep your dog on-lead. 

Breeding Zone 10: Wilddog Creek

Please keep your dog on-lead.

Breeding Zone 11: Barham River To Marengo

Please keep your dog on-lead.

Please be aware of the location of breeding zones and dog regulations that apply along the Great Ocean Road region. Keep dogs completely out of ‘no dog zones’ and on a lead in other Hoodie breeding areas. This will make an enormous difference in minimising disturbance to Hoodies in their hood.

Refer to your local Shire website and the signage at all beach access points for information on where and when you can walk your dog. Shire Enforcement Officers are targeting these areas over the peak season.

Other local breeding/management zones

Other areas Hoodies breed along the Great Ocean Road that are not currently managed by our team include ‘Guvvos Beach’ (the beach in between O’Donohue Road and Hut Gully) and Point Addis, both managed by Parks Victoria.

Our management area currently ends at Thompsons Creek (Point Impossible). Hoodies breeding on the Breamlea side of the creek are managed by the City of Greater Geelong.

How to help

The threat of dogs

Hooded Plovers react to off-lead dogs on the beach by fleeing or showing signs of distress at twice the distance they do to humans. Research shows that flightless chicks stay hidden for three times as long after off-lead dogs have passed compared to walkers with no dogs.

Give them space

While dogs are of particular concern, humans are also urged to give Hoodies space. Unfortunately, dogs or humans getting too close can result in:

  • Nests, eggs and/or chicks being trampled or eaten
  • Hoodie parents neglecting their eggs or chicks for extended periods, as they are too frightened to return to the nest)
  • Hoodie parents and chicks being too frightened to venture closer to the water to feed.
Take simple steps to make a difference

Hoodies nest on the dune side of the beach, so please make sure you:

  • Stay close to the water’s edge
  • Observe signs and keep clear of fenced areas
  • Keep dogs on a lead and out of breeding zones
  • Be aware of where the breeding zones are and the dog regulations that apply
  • Ensure dogs remain out of ‘no-dog zones’ and keep dogs on a lead in (or completely away from) other Hoodie breeding areas to minimise disturbance.

Refer to your local Shire Council's website for information on where and when you can walk your dog in that area and remember that  Enforcement Officers target beach areas over the peak season.

Want to do more?

Hundreds of volunteers help to protect Hoodies across Victoria, spending thousands of hours protecting Hoodies each year.

By monitoring and wardening birds and their nests, volunteers assist BirdLife Australia (who coordinate the statewide and national recovery of the Hooded Plover) to work towards putting protective management measures in place to reduce threats and human pressure facing Hoodies.

If you’re out and about on the coast, say hello to a friendly volunteer. Volunteer monitors are passionate individuals who have a wealth of knowledge about Hoodies and are often found near nesting sites – at a safe distance of course!

Our Conservation Team and local volunteers often have a telescope set up for spotting Hoodies from afar and welcome community members to view the birds in their habitat.

To learn more about Hooded Plovers, or to become a volunteer monitor, contact BirdLife Australia at hoodedplover@birdlife.org.au, or www.birdlife.org.au/beach.