Hooded plover (Thinornis rubricollis) - critically endangered species listing

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Final Determination to list the Hooded Plover Thinornis rubricollis (Gmelin, 1789) as a CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES in Part 1 of Schedule 1A of the Act, and as a consequence, to omit reference to Thinornis rubricollis (Gmelin, 1789) from Part 1 of Schedule 1 (Endangered species) of the Act. Listing of Critically Endangered species is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.

NSW Scientific Committee – final determination

The Scientific Committee has found that:

1. The Hooded Plover Thinornis rubricollis (Gmelin, 1789) is a small (21 cm) grey-brown shorebird with a black head, white collar and underparts, red bill and eye-ring, and orange legs. A white wing-bar, and white tail with a black centre, are visible in flight. It is similar to the smaller Black-fronted Dotterel, which has a black V-shaped band on the breast, and to the dumpier and long-legged Red-kneed Dotterel, which has a broad black breast-band. The juvenile Hooded Plover is similar to many other small grey-brown shorebirds, especially the Charadrius plovers, but has a broad white collar on the back of the neck.

2. The Hooded Plover occurs around the southern coast of Australia and Tasmania, and on inland saline wetlands in south-west Western Australia (Marchant & Higgins 1993). It is restricted to the littoral zone of beaches and sandy estuaries, where it nests on the ground just above the tideline. In NSW, the Hooded Plover historically occurred north to at least the Sydney region, and possibly to Port Stephens. Resident birds are now found only south of Wollongong, although occasional vagrants are seen north to the Central Coast and (rarely) south-east Queensland. Its current northern breeding limit is around Shoalhaven Heads. NSW birds constitute a single population, having possible dispersal and genetic interchange across the NSW-Victorian border.

3. The Hooded Plover has declined in abundance and distribution, becoming rare around Sydney by 1900, with the last records from there dating from the 1940s. The NSW population is extremely low and declining, being estimated at 62 birds in 1988, 19-25 pairs in 2003-04 (NSW FOC annual bird reports), and fewer than 20 pairs by 2007 (DECC in litt. 2007).

4. Large areas of the species’ littoral and estuarine habitat in NSW have been and are continuing to be destroyed and degraded by coastal development and engineering works. Remaining habitat is at risk of disturbance by human activities (including recreational vehicles), dogs, and artificial opening of coastal lagoons. Other threats include egg or chick predation by foxes and artificially high Silver Gull populations, weed invasion, oil spills, harvesting of kelp wrack and trampling by livestock. ‘Predation by the European Red Fox Vulpes vulpes (Linnaeus, 1758)’ is listed as a Key Threatening Process under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

5. The Hooded Plover is listed as Threatened in Victoria (Flora & Fauna Guarantee Act; Vulnerable on the Advisory List). It is listed as Migratory on Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and so subject to the Bonn Convention.

6. The Hooded Plover Thinornis rubricollis (Gmelin, 1789) is eligible to be listed as a Critically Endangered species as, in the opinion of the Scientific Committee, it is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in New South Wales in the immediate future as determined in accordance with the following criteria as prescribed by the Threatened Species Conservation Regulation 2002:

Clause 16

The estimated total number of mature individuals of the species is:

(a) very low.


(d) a projected or continuing decline is observed, estimated or inferred in:

(ii) An index of abundance appropriate to the taxon

(ii) geographic distribution, habitat quality or diversity, or genetic diversity.

Clause 17

The total number of mature individuals of the species is observed, estimated or inferred to be:

(a) extremely low.


Dr Richard Major
Scientific Committee

Proposed Gazettal date: 31/07/09
Exhibition period: 31/07/09 - 25/09/09


Marchant S, Higgins PJ, (Eds) (1993) ‘Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds (Vol. 2).’ (Oxford University Press: Melbourne)

NSW Field Ornithologists Club (1988-2007) NSW annual bird reports, published annually in Australian Birds.