Protected Fairy Tern Nesting Site

About Fairy Terns

The Australian Fairy Tern (Sternula nereis) is a migratory shorebird that can be found along the coast of Western Australia. Fairy Terns are listed as ‘vulnerable’ in Western Australia under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999).

Fairy Terns nest during spring and summer around south-western Australia. Birdlife Australia has recorded long term observations of Fairy Tern roosting and nesting sites at Woodman Point, and this location is ideal for their needs.

Fairy Terns have similar characteristics, but are much smaller then Crested Terns (Thalasseus bergii) which are common at Woodman Point. During breeding season Fairy Terns are all white except for a black cap with orange-yellow bills and legs. Their non-breeding plumage is less defined.

Photo credit: Cherilyn Corker, Fairy Tern Crested Tern.

Picture of fairy turns


Threats to Fairy Tern nesting include human disturbances such as trampling and noise, extreme weather events such as storms, and predation by animals including foxes, cats and dogs.

It is estimated that there are fewer than 3,000 breeding pairs in Western Australia and at least one quarter of those birds breed in the broader Perth metropolitan region.

Eggs and chicks blend in well with their surroundings making them vulnerable to trampling by humans and dogs.

Photo credit: Claire Greenwell, Fairy Tern chicks.

Picture of fairy turns

The Nesting Site Project, WAPET Groyne, Woodman Point

The City of Cockburn, the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions, WA Fairy Tern Network and Conservation Council WA received funding from the WA Government's State NRM Program to establish a protected nesting site for the vulnerable Fairy Terns at Woodman Point.
The three-year (2021-23) project is exploring ways to attract and protect Fairy Terns on WAPET Groyne – the western tip of Woodman Point.

This could include:

  • Temporary exclusion zoning in waters directly surround the Groyne to limit disturbances from recreational water activities (marked by ocean buoys and signage)

  • Temporary fencing to enclose and protect the nesting site and minimise human disturbance

  • Installation of beach shell to enhance nesting habitat

  • Installation of temporary Fairy Tern decoys and playback speakers to attract terns, and shelters to protect chicks

  • Installation of monitoring cameras and on a seasonal basis to record Fairy Tern presence

  • Signage at Woodman Point to engage and educate beach users.

Other Fair Tern protection projects

For more information

Related Pages



City of Cockburn
Whadjuk Boodja
9 Coleville Crescent,
Spearwood 6163

PO Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC,
Western Australia, 6965

Office opening hours:
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Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)

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Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaadatj dayin boodja, kep wer malayin. Ngalak kaadatj koora koora wer yeyi ngalang birdiya.

City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for Country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past and present.