Shorebirds of Brisbane

Shorebirds, also known as waders, gather in large numbers on Australian coastal and inland wetlands. Shorebirds generally have long legs in relation to their body size, no webbing on their feet and they don't swim.

Some features that make shorebirds different to one another include their nesting habits, beak types, food and whether they are migratory or residential.

Regardless of the time of the day, shorebirds feed according to the tide, using their long beaks to dig for worms, insects and crustaceans. Their bills are specialised and variable depending on where they feed such as along the shore line or along the beach, in wetlands or around rocky headlands.  

For more information, visit the Queensland Wader Study Group website.

Residential and migratory shorebirds

Residential shorebirds are those that already live here in Australia. There are already thousands of residential shorebirds within the Moreton Bay region.

Migratory shorebirds visiting Australia come from their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere countries such as Siberia, Korea, China or Japan. Migratory shorebirds travel along the East Asian-Australasian flyway and when they arrive in Brisbane, many will have travelled 13,000 kilometres. Approximately two million shorebirds visit Australia during spring and summer, with over 40,000 arriving in Moreton Bay each year.

The largest shorebird, the Eastern Curlew, weighs up to 900 grams and flies from Russia. The smallest migratory bird, the Red-Necked Stint, weighs up to 30 grams and migrates between Siberia and Australia each year.


  • make up about 10 per cent of Australia's species of birds
  • travel distances of up to 25,000 kilometres each year
  • are able to sleep by allowing one side of the brain to shut down while flying.

To protect migratory shorebirds, Brisbane City Council and the City of Narashino, Japan have signed the Narashino agreement.

Shorebirds feeding and roost sites

32 species out of 42 international migratory shorebirds visit the Moreton Bay region. This site provides vitally important feeding and resting grounds to both residential and migratory shorebirds.

The Boondall Wetlands are part of the chain of coastal wetlands associated with Moreton Bay listed under the international treaty Ramsar Convention as internationally important wetlands. The Ramsar Convention provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Through the agreement of Ramsar Convention, Australia has agreed to protect both residential and migratory shorebirds. 

Help protect these birds

To protect shorebirds in Moreton Bay region you can help by:

  • ensuring you and your pet doesn't disturb birds
  • taking rubbish home with you
  • reducing speed limits on boats
  • reducing four wheel driving on beaches and near shorebirds nest sites.

Council is investigating options for designated dog off-leash areas within the Brisbane foreshore to improve environmental outcomes and shorebird protection, as well as create recreational opportunities for dog-owners along popular foreshore areas.

For more information, visit the Foreshore Dog Off-Leash Areas in Brisbane page.

Photo gallery

View the Boondall Wetlands Shorebirds photo gallery below or view the photos individually in the Boondall Wetlands Shorebirds set in Council's Flickr account.

Australasian Darter

Sharing Shorelines film

This movie, presented by Pip Russel, explores the importance of Brisbane's coastal areas as a habitat for shorebirds. It was made in partnership with many organisations, in particular the students from Earnshaw College who helped with the filming.

You can read the Sharing Shorelines video transcript.

Shorebird habitats

To find out where you can find these shorebirds in Brisbane, view the wetlands and parklands track maps for:

Last updated:10 May 2019