Help shorebirds to survive

Shorebird Identification Guide (photographs and descriptions)

  1. Identify our shorebirds  
  2. Discover where they live
  3. Understand their needs
  4. Help them to survive 
  5. Back to Pumicestone Passage Shorebirds

Problems facing shorebirds

Agitated Red-capped Plover
Agitated Red-capped Plover
Image:  J Dening

There are many problems facing shorebirds in Pumicestone Passage, the most significant being habitat destruction, pollution and disturbance. It is crucial for their long-term survival that we make every effort to find solutions.

Wetlands are disappearing rapidly, both in Australia and worldwide, many being developed for farming, housing and other coastal projects. Excellent areas for shorebirds are often considered worthless and, as we place ever-increasing demands on land, valuable roost sites are being lost forever. However, it is not too late to preserve existing sites and to develop the potential of others.

Discarded pollutants, such as chemicals and household rubbish, end up in the passage through stormwater outlets. The clear message is that we should act responsibly when disposing of waste products, minimising any adverse effects.

Feral animals, such as foxes, dogs and cats, regularly kill shorebirds. Please report any sightings of feral animals to Queensland Parks and Wildlife.

Most disturbance is caused by human activity, and every time shorebirds are forced to take flight they waste vital energy. The energy used by every alarm flight is four times that used in steady flight and over twenty times that used when foraging for food. Wasting energy reserves may delay their migration, or even prevent them from completing the journey, severely impacting their breeding success.

What can we do

Wary Eastern Curlew
Wary Eastern Curlew
Image:  L Cross

What can we all do to prevent disturbance to our shorebirds:

  • Do not disturb shorebirds when they are resting, feeding or breeding, such as by walking through a roost site at high tide or choosing an inappropriate campsite.
  • Keep domestic animals, dogs especially, under control and well away from shorebirds.
  • If fishing from a sandbank, choose the opposite end to where birds are gathered. Move away if you are in an area that shorebirds need to occupy as the tide rises.
  • Avoid driving along the beach at high tide, or above the high-tide mark, as this is where resident shorebirds build their nests, often in the sand.
  • Avoid driving or operating any form of vehicle, boat or motorised watercraft, particularly jet skis, near shorebirds. Always drive away from, or around, a feeding or roosting flock.

Protected by law

Whimbrel close-up
Image:  N Bowman

As shorebirds are protected by law, these guidelines should be strictly observed. Pumicestone Passage is designated as a Conservation Zone within Moreton Bay Marine Park and significant fines apply for the disturbance of shorebirds.

Destruction of wetlands is reducing shorebird numbers globally, not just at their breeding and non-breeding grounds but in areas where they pause during their migration. These areas, called staging grounds, are crucial as it is here that shorebirds can refuel, rest and regain strength. Of particular concern is the destruction of such areas in Asia.

The East Asian-Australasian Flyway is the broad corridor between the Arctic Circle and Australasia, covering shorebirds' breeding and non-breeding grounds and the chain of staging grounds.

Australia is a signatory to three bilateral agreements for migratory bird conservation in this flyway, JAMBA (with Japan) and CAMBA (with China) and ROKAMBA (with the Republic of Korea). Two important multilateral agreements, the Ramsar Convention and the Bonn Convention, promote the conservation of wetlands and migratory species, so it would seem that governments are beginning to address the problems. But direct action must be taken soon.

This chain of staging grounds is interconnected and if we continue removing the links at the current rate, many shorebird species face extinction.

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