Shorebirds in Australia fall into three groups:

  • Resident species that remain in Australia all year;
  • Migratory species that migrate from their breeding areas, which are generally in northeast Asia, to their feeding grounds in Australia and New Zealand for the southern hemisphere summer. There are more than 30 migratory shorebirds that regularly visit Australia; and
  • Vagrant species that occasionally visit Australia.

Shorebird migration

Migratory 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 waterbirds and their habitat

There are a number of international agreements in place to protect migratory shorebirds and other migratory waterbird species. These include:

  • The Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA);
  • The China-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement CAMBA);
  • The Republic of Korea-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (ROKAMBA);
  • The Convention on Migratory Species; and
  • The Partnership for the Conservation of Migratory Waterbirds and Sustainable Use of their Habitats in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

For more information on these agreements visit the Australian Government Department of the Environment website.

Shorebird sites

Shallow Inlet, Corner Inlet, Western Port, 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. For more information visit the Australian Government Department of the Environment website.

Information sheets for three of Victoria's shorebird sites are available below. The Ramsar site documentation provides information on shorebirds in the Corner Inlet and Western Port shorebird sites.

Page last updated: 17/12/19