Adult and post-natal breeding-dispersal movements of Redshank Tringa totanus, Dunlin Calidris alpina and Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula were quantified in west Scotland. Data from 373 returning birds marked as breeding adults and 142 returning birds marked as chicks are presented. Unlike most previous studies, this study measured dispersal movements up to 40 km and attempted to overcome distance-related biases. For each species, adult males were significantly more nest site-faithful between years than were adult females. Likewise, first-time breeding males bred significantly closer to their natal site than did females. The settlement intensity per unit area of habitat showed marked differences between species, age classes and sex in the relative attractiveness of potential areas at different distances to settling birds. Adult dispersal was negatively and significantly related to breeding success in the previous year and positively related to capture on the nest in the previous year. Dispersal movements of adult Ringed Plover breeding on unstable cultivated habitats were significantly related to habitat quality (measured in terms of nest survival) and were always to habitat of better or equal quality.