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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Provide artificial nesting sites for waders Bird Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • Two replicated studies from the UK and the USA found that waders used artificial islands and nesting sites.
  • The UK study found that sparsely vegetated islands at coastal sites were used more than well vegetated and inland sites.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


A replicated study in 1992 reviewing the use of artificial islands and floating platforms in 17 wetland nature reserves across the UK (Burgess & Hirons 1992) found that six species of wader were more likely to use sparsely-vegetated islands and platforms for nesting on than well-vegetated ones. Platforms at inland sites were used less than those at coastal sites. Pied avocets Recurvirostra avosetta only bred on sparsely-covered islands and platforms at southern, coastal sites, with the provision of shingle islands leading to a significant increase in the avocet population at one site and the establishment of a population at another. Common ringed plovers Charadrius hiaticula only used islands at coastal sites, whilst little ringed plovers C. dubius only used sparsely-vegetated islands, but at both inland and coastal sites. Common redshank Tringa tetanus, northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus and Eurasian oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus nested on islands at almost all sites. The review also examines island and platform use by grebes, divers, ground-nesting seabirds, rails and wildfowl.



A replicated, controlled study from March-August in 1994-1998 in 5 newly created site, 1 older artificial site and 1 natural site in coastal habitats in California, USA (Powell & Collier 2000) found that snowy plovers Charadrius alexandrius nivosus used sites created for common terns Sterna antillarum browni but fledge rates declined steadily over the study period. The number of plover nests increased from 5 in 1994 to 38 in 1997, and were found on 4 of the 5 created areas. The natural site has the highest number of nests in total compared to the newly and older created sites (39, 25 and 8 nests respectively). Fledge rate in 1995 was higher at the newly created site (1.4 fledglings/nest) than at the control sites in any year but declined to 0.27 fledglings/nest in 1998. Average fledge rates were similar amongst sites (0.57, 0.47 and 0.52 fledglings / nest for newly created sites, old site and natural site respectively). Created sites were dredge spoils of coarse material.


Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Bird Conservation. Pages 141-290 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.