When most people think of Broome and Roebuck Bay they think of migratory shorebirds. There are thousands of shorebirds that visit Broome each year and the majority of them are now in the northern hemisphere hopefully sitting on eggs. Not all of our shorebird species migrate and those that reside here are also currently sitting on eggs, or thinking about laying eggs in the upcoming weeks. In a few weeks we will have some gorgeous bundles of feathers, so for this post I will have to rely on earlier years photos. The nice thing about shorebirds is that they are feathered as they break out of their eggs and it only takes a couple of hours and they are dry and on the move. The ability to move away from their nest as soon as two hours after hatching is imperative to their survival. The nest is usually exposed to enable the parents to see any approaching predators and the chicks then need to seek good camouflage as soon as they have hatched. They also need to follow their parents to either be fed or to feed themselves. You often come across these scenarios accidentally and many people probably have no idea why they are getting abused by an adult bird!

Pied Oystercatchers nest along our coastline from late June and they will continue to attempt to raise chicks over the following months. Due to predation they will attempt several times each year and they are not successful every year. The longevity of these shorebirds enables the population to remain steady. They will walk in and walk out of their nest sites whilst they are sitting on eggs and rarely display “broken wings” until the chicks have hatched. Once they move away from the nest site they will listen for instructions from their parents and when told to hide they will do so immediately. It is not always easy to hide depending on their situation, but they will remain completely still until the warning sound changes and they then stand up and return to their parents. Here are some examples of what we can expect to see along our coast in the next few weeks….

Newly hatched Pied Oystercatcher chicks

Pied Oystercatcher chick with parent shortly after hatching

Pied Oystercatcher chick looking hard for camouflage on a sandy spit

Pair of Pied Oystercatcher chicks hiding in the shade in the dunes

Pied Oystercatcher chick hiding on the reef

Pied Oystercatcher chick hiding flat out under a sandstone cliff

Pied Oystercatcher chick hoping it can’t be seen on the reef

Pied Oystercatcher chick in the saltbush

Another resident species is the Red-capped Plover and they are also currently in preparation for their breeding season here along the coast. They are incredibly small when they hatch out and are immediately on the move. They follow their parents down to the water’s edge to feed, but make a rapid retreat when warned of danger. They will race to the high tide area to find some camouflage, but if that it not an option they will stand or lie motionless until the danger passes. They appear to have rather long legs-good for running when they first hatch out…

Red-capped Plover chick with legs for running!

Red-capped Plover chick lying under a small stick-note the adult and chick footprints!

Red-capped Plover chick stands still at night hoping to be invisible!

Not all of our shorebirds nest along the coast. The Masked Lapwings are quite happy to nest at the Poo Ponds , the nearby lake systems and even in the storm water drain behind our home! They are extremely vocal and there was no mistaking the sound when the parents decided to move their chicks through the storm drain behind our property to take them to the local park.

Masked Lapwing adult convincing two chicks to head for the park

Masked Lapwing chicks

We hope you have enjoyed seeing some of Broome’s Baby Shorebirds!

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Baby Bird Week is our celebration of the young, the cute, the adorable, the twee. We certainly spend enough time on adult birds here on 10,000 Birds so we figured it would only make sense to fawn over the fuzzy bundles of fluff that grow up to become the objects of our fascination. Whether you seek out waterfowl, songbirds, or seabirds we will have baby birds to match your obsession.

Baby Bird Week will run from 15-21 July, Sunday until Saturday. Make sure to check back every day or even multiple times a day to keep up with all the baby bird goodness!

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Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!