Shorebird Protection
  • Last updated:
  • 29 Jan 2016

The Sunshine Coast provides an important habitat for shorebirds who gather in large numbers within the intertidal areas of the Maroochy River and the Pumicestone Passage.

About one-third of shorebird species are residents, however most are migratory. Several of these species are protected under Australia's international agreements with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. Australia is also signatory, through the Bonn Convention, to the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.

Migration of shorebirds

An estimated two million shorebirds migrate annually to Australia from their breeding grounds in arctic Asia, Alaska and the North Pacific. 

Some species fly for days without rest or food and travel tens of thousands of kilometres to reach Australian shores. They arrive exhausted and spend September to April resting and feeding within the estuaries.

Shorebird habitat

Shorebirds occupy instream sand islands and coastal foredunes, typically around river mouths.

They must have space, food and protection from predators and disturbances to recuperate from their long flights and prepare for the next stage of their journey.

To conserve energy they select roosting areas which are conveniently close to their feeding sites, generally at or above the high tide mark.

Recreation in shorebird habitat

Shorebird roosts and feeding areas are often in the same areas where people like to recreate - walking, exercising dogs, boating, swimming, kite surfing, jetskiing and fishing.

Each time shorebirds are disturbed, they take flight and the energy stocks they are desperately trying to build up are impacted. Repeated disturbance exacerbates this problem.

How you can help 

When people, dogs, vehicles and water craft purposely disturb shorebirds, critical energy is used. You can help by:

  • not running at flocks of shorebirds to make them take flight
  • letting shorebirds rest - observe quietly from a distance
  • keeping your dogs under control
  • not driving on beaches near shorebird nest sites
  • taking rubbish home with you.

More information

Related sites

For more information, please contact the Waterways, Coastal and Catchment Unit via council's customer cervice centre.