Shorebird protection
  • Last updated:
  • 21 Dec 2022

The Sunshine Coast provides important habitat for migratory and resident shorebirds. Each summer, they gather in large numbers on the sandbanks and mudflats of the lower Maroochy River and Pumicestone Passage.

Share our Coast with the shorebirds

Shorebirds need space, food and rest to recover from their long flights and prepare for their return journey. You can learn more about our resident and migratory shorebirds by following our series Shorebirds of the Sunshine Coast.

Space to rest

Migratory shorebirds are the world’s most threatened group of birds. They travel 20,000 – 30,000 km each year to spend the summer on the Sunshine Coast. Here, they feed and rest before flying back to their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere.

On the Sunshine Coast, shorebird resting and feeding areas often overlap with recreational use areas. We can help the birds by giving them space and avoid disturbing them to ensure our summer visitors have enough energy for their long journey back.

Any disturbance to the birds during this time limits their ability to gain essential weight and energy. Even short disturbances add up and impact on their return journey and breeding success.

Ideas to share our coastline

Shorebirds are easily disturbed by people, dogs, vehicles and watercrafts getting too close to the birds and causing them to fly away. You can help protect our shorebirds by:

  • observing from a distance using binoculars
  • not running at flocks of shorebirds
  • choosing a location away from the birds for your activities
  • keeping your dogs under control
  • taking your rubbish home.


About two-thirds of the local shorebirds are migratory species. All migratory species are protected under Australia's bilateral agreements with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, as well as under international agreements such as the Bonn Convention on Migratory Species.

An estimated two million shorebirds migrate annually to Australia from their arctic breeding grounds in Asia and Alaska. More than half of the migratory shorebird species that visit Australia are experiencing a drop in population numbers.

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


Shorebirds live around instream sand islands and coastal foredunes, typically around river mouths. During low tide, they feed on sandbanks on mudflats. To save energy, they select resting areas which are conveniently close to their feeding sites, generally at or above the high tide mark.

On the Sunshine Coast, they are mainly found in the lower Maroochy River and Pumicestone Passage.

Maps to habitat area