Shorebirds frequent coastal areas such as beaches, bays, inlets and estuaries. Some species of shorebirds also frequent inland wetlands. Along the coast in Victoria, shorebirds feed during low tide on intertidal mudflats and find areas in which to roost at high tide.
Shorebirds in Australia fall into three groups:
Shorebird migrationMigratory shorebirds visit Victoria each summer to feed on invertebrates on the mudflats in coastal and inland wetlands.
Each year they travel from their breeding areas in the tundra regions of the northern hemisphere and back again along particular routes known as flyways. Along the way they stop at suitable wetlands to feed and build reserves of fat for the next stage of their journey.
The conservation of wetlands which provide suitable habitat for breeding along the migratory route and at their non-breeding summer destinations in Victoria and elsewhere is critical to their survival and requires international cooperation.
International agreements to protect migratory shorebirds and their habitatThese include:
East Asian-Australasian Flyway Site NetworkShallow Inlet, Corner Inlet, Western Port and the western shoreline of Port Phillip Bay and the Bellarine Peninsula and Discovery Bay have been recognised for their importance to migratory shorebirds through listing as shorebird sites on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Site Network. These sites and some other significant shorebird areas are listed as Ramsar sites or in A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia.
Destruction of Shorebird habitatActivities that damage or fragment Shorebird habitat or directly disturb the birds, may eventuate in the following negative impacts on the birds:
- direct loss of intertidal habitat through filling or dredging
- fragmentation of large continuous habitat areas by intervening development
- loss of mangroves and seagrasses which stabilise mudflats and provide organic matter to support invertebrates on which shorebirds feed
- loss of (terrestrial) fringing vegetation which shelters and stabilises the shore, filters and absorbs runoff and provides a source of organic matter
- invasion of intertidal mudflats by weeds such as cord grass
- water pollution and nutrient changes
- disturbance from boating activities, from people and dogs walking near habitat and general human activity
- Additionally, changes in climate and water levels predicted to occur, may cause significant transformations to coastal areas that are important to shorebirds.
Conserving ShorebirdsThe community has the opportunity to become involved in shorebird conservation. These activities involve habitat protection, bird banding and monitoring. Some Community Groups that run these activities are:
- Australasian Wader Studies Group
- Bird Observation & Conservation Australia
- The Field Naturalist Club of Victoria Inc
- Little Tern Taskforce Inc
- The Gould Group
- Victorian Wader Study Group