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Shorebirds project

Shorebirds are found along sandy or rocky shorelines, mudflats and shallow waters. Shorebirds are a group of many different birds including sandpipers, plovers, stints, oystercatchers, godwits, curlews, knots and greenshanks. Some species, such as the Hooded Plover, are residents on our coast and breed here. Others are migratory and spend the non-breeding season in Australia.

Each summer tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds fly thousands of kilometres to feed and shelter along our shores. A number of them undertake huge migrations from their northern hemisphere breeding ground in Siberia and Mongolia through Asia to spend the southern summer on the shores of Gulf St Vincent.

Coastal land provides significant shorebird habitat. Gulf St Vincent is the second most important area for shorebirds in South Australia after the Coorong.

Why shorebirds are under threat

Loss of roosting and feeding habitat and disturbance are the major threats to shorebird populations. Habitat can be lost due to coastal development and pollution. Disturbance occurs due to vehicles on beaches, recreational use of beaches and predation by dogs and foxes.

Find out more about shorebirds in this short video.

An introduction to shorebirds on the Samphire Coast

What is being done to protect shorebirds?

The former Natural Resources AMLR partnered in a study into shorebird management and conservation. The resulting shorebird management and conservation report provided information on how to protect shorebirds and their habitats in the region. The study found that there are a diverse range of resident and migratory shorebird species in this area. For some species, such as Red-necked Stints and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, a significant portion of the world’s population is found here. There are also a range of habitats in the area, some with national and international significance.

The key habitat needs of shorebirds were found to be:

  • shallow waters with exposed mud
  • extensive feeding areas that allow many birds to feed at once
  • an adequate supply of appropriate food sources
  • open areas for roosting and nesting (resident species) so that the birds can observe any potential threats
  • a source of freshwater, mainly in summertime
  • low levels of human disturbance.

Shorebird tales

Monitoring and reporting


Birdlife Australia

Funding partners

Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board

Image gallery