For most animals in the wild, there are predators who want to take them out. That’s why many of these creatures have evolved certain defense tactics to try and keep themselves safe. Unfortunately, not every animal is so prepared, including the hooded plovers. Fortunately, humans have intervened by building these birds tiny beach huts, so there’s no longer such a risk of them becoming prey.
Why the hooded plover is vulnerable
Life for the hooded plover hasn’t always been easy because of where these animals make their habitats. These little birds nest on the beach, making them susceptible to harm from both humans and animals. Although people who go to the Australian coast might not intentionally hurt the creatures, it’s easy for them to trample on their eggs unknowingly. This, along with attacks from dogs, foxes, and larger birds, has made the hooded plover a threatened species. In some parts of Australia, it’s even critically endangered because of human and animal interference.
What has been done to protect them?
Whenever a species risks being wiped out, conservationists do what they can to protect the animal and help its numbers to grow. Unfortunately, unless you ban access to Australia’s beaches, it’s hard to keep a bird like the hooded plover safe. At least, that was until Dr. Grainne Maguire and her team created the A-frame shelters. These simple but effective creations help the creatures by providing a safe place for them to seek shelter when in danger. They’re noticeable enough that people don’t accidentally step on them while also making it harder for predators to reach their prey. The shelters are placed close to the hooded plover’s feeding areas, so they have a quick escape if they feel threatened. Initially, they had to seek safety in the dune vegetation, but this was often too far away or lacked appropriate cover, leaving them incredibly vulnerable.
These shelters are vital after a tough season
Due to the global pandemic restricting travel, more people within Australia visited beaches that are typically less popular. This resulted in a disastrous breeding season for the species, particularly on the Bass Coast of Victoria. Thankfully, volunteers have constructed dozens of these A-frame shelters to ensure the next season is more successful. The structures are reportedly capable of increasing fledgling rates by over 70%, which makes conservationists hopeful about the species’ chance of survival. The fact that the birds have managed for so long without these shelters is a testament to their resilience. However, this added layer of safety is still vital for reversing the bird’s threatened status. Increased public awareness can also make quite the difference, as it ensures that people are looking out for the birds even when these A-frame shelters aren’t around.
It’s always hard to hear when a species is wiped out. We don’t want the same thing to happen to the hooded plovers, which is why we’re so grateful to these conservationists. Thanks to their efforts, these birds should still be around for many years to come.