School lesson: Wings of the world - video transcript

This page is a transcript of the School lesson: Wings of the world video on Brisbane City Council's YouTube channel. The video is just over 7 minutes long.

You can find more lessons and Council videos on our Brisbane: Better together video hub.


>> EMILY: Hi there and welcome to Boondall Wetlands. I’m Emily. 

>> MIKE: And I’m Mike. 

>> EMILY: And today we are learning about migratory shorebirds. 

>> MIKE: Migratory shorebirds. So what is a migratory shorebird? 

>> EMILY: A migratory shorebird, well, first Mike, there are two kinds of shorebirds and shorebirds like to live by the water. There’s resident and migratory. So, resident shorebirds live locally like you or I but migratory shorebirds, they travel all around the globe. 

>> MIKE: Ok, so these birds make a journey of over 12,000 kilometres flying from Boondall Wetlands all the way to the northern hemisphere. Places like Siberia and Alaska. 

>> EMILY: And the path these birds travel along is called the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. What a mouth full. 

>> MIKE: So the Boondall Wetlands play a really, really important role in these migratory shorebirds. Because they come here every summer to feed on the mudflats and also rest from their long journey. 

>> EMILY: Wow. 

>> MIKE: So, should we go check this out? 

>> EMILY: Yeah definitely, let’s go check it out. 

>> MIKE: Let’s get out of here, let’s go. So, we are at the Boondall Wetland’s bird hide right now, and yes, we have to keep it quite because there’s a lot of birds around. 

>> EMILY: Mm, so, before we were talking about that big flyway and they come down during summer, and you were saying they come down to eat, but what are they eating down here? 

>> MIKE: Ok, so, it’s really important, they can only eat when the tide is low, because they eat on the mudflats. 

>> EMILY: Oh! 

>> MIKE: Yeah, so they’re eating things like worms, molluscs, seeds, all sorts. 

>> EMILY: Wow. 

>> MIKE: Yeah, but when the tide’s high, they have to roost.  

>> EMILY: Hey Mike, who’s your friend? 

>> MIKE: So, this is one of the smallest migratory shorebirds, this is a red-necked stint. 

>> EMILY: Oo. 

>> MIKE: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. And this is obviously a model and it weighs the same weight as a red-necked stint, the real ones though. 

>> EMILY: Oh, but that’s so light. 

>> MIKE: Yeah, it’s about a weight of a chicken egg. 

>> EMILY: Wow. 

>> MIKE: Did you know, when it makes its journey after that long flight of 12,000 kilometres it has to feed? It loses half of its body weight, so it’s just feeding and feeding on those mudflats. 

>> EMILY: It would be so tiny. 

>> MIKE: Mm, so like I said, it’s the smallest and they also have the largest which is the Eastern curlew. But this guy's probably my favourite. 

>> EMILY: But what I’d like to know is how a bird this tiny can fly all of that way? 

>> MIKE: So, to answer your question Emily, the birds, like other animals take on adaptations to deal with the environment that they’re living in. 

>> EMILY: So, to survive on the mudflats, shorebirds have a couple of key adaptations. They have flexible toes and long legs to help them stay on top of the mud and not sink in. Another adaptation are their beaks. Some of them have very long curved beaks so they can dig right down and pull up some worms or some of those molluscs and different foods sources and some of them have short sharp beaks and that allows them to pick on the surface. 

>> MIKE: So Emily before you were talking about the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. 

>> EMILY: Yep! 

>> MIKE: I’m a bit confused because the birds are down here, it has somewhere to feed? 

>> EMILY: Uhuh. 

>> MIKE: Why wouldn’t they just stay here all the time? Why do they go all the way to the northern hemisphere?   

>> EMILY: Well Mike there’s a really good answer to why they fly all the way up to the northern hemisphere, and that is, it’s perfect for breeding. So up here, in the winter it’s really cold and iced over and it’s quite hostile for migratory shorebirds, but in the summer when the snow melts, it’s perfect breeding conditions. There’s lots of insects and little bugs for the babies to eat when they hatch out. 

>> MIKE: So, what we are looking at here is a year in a life of a migratory shorebird. So you’ll fly from September all the way through around mid-March is when we’ve got the birds visiting here down at the Boondall Wetlands and throughout the southern hemisphere. During our winter, the birds then fly all the back up to the northern hemisphere. So, there’s 34 different species of migratory shorebirds that visit Boondall every year. It’s just pretty astonishing. 

>> EMILY: Once the migratory shorebirds leave Boondall Wetlands at the end of summer, they fly north along the flyway heading up towards Russia and Alaska, but sometimes they need to stop off and have a bit of a rest and a feed. One of the places they like to stop is in Yatsu Higata, our sister wetland in Japan. Now you may be wondering, how on earth do these birds know where they’re going? How do they navigate? Do they have a map and a compass in their back pockets?        

>> MIKE: Google Maps I think. 

>> EMILY: Google Maps?   

>> MIKE: No, I’m just joking Emily. They can use a range of different ways to find their way. Through the stars, also listening for sounds, so when they hear the waves crashing on the shore, that gives them a sign there might be a near land and not over sea. 

>> EMILY: Wow, so they are using a lot of different senses. Well you know I also heard they have special internal compass that helps them navigate north to south. 

>> MIKE: Wow. 

>> EMILY: So, that nearly brings us to the end of our lesson today Mike, but there’s couple more things we need to talk about. Unfortunately many of these shorebirds are under threat. They are under threats from development across the globe, but also threats locally, like people not having their dogs on the leash, like a beach. 

>> MIKE: Oh, I hate that. Yeah, when dogs are off the leash, they’re chasing the birds when they’re trying to feed, right?  

>> EMILY: Yeah, and they’re using their energy trying to run away, and they can’t rest and feed. 

>> MIKE: So, I guess if you’re down at the beach and you have a dog on a leash, they’re not going to disturb these birds, right?  

>> EMILY: That’s right! 

>> MIKE: That sounds so simple, oh, maybe that’s an action that we can take. Well, not maybe, that’s an action we should definitely take, right? 

>> EMILY: Definitely! Also rubbish and pollution. So, not only can you put your own rubbish in the bin, but taking three for the sea. Who’s heard of that saying?   

>> MIKE: I don’t know, I have now. So, three for the sea. What do you mean?  

>> EMILY: Three pieces of rubbish every day. Put them in the bin and helping everyone on the planet conserve. 

>> MIKE: Wow, that’s so easy, isn’t it? 

>> EMILY: Yeah. 

>> MIKE: Why stop at three, you can take more right? 

>> EMILY: Yeah, you can take more. 

>> MIKE: So, that’s an action that you guys could do. Taking three pieces of rubbish, making sure your dogs are on a leash and even cleaning up after your dog, picking up its poop.  

>> EMILY: Oh yeah definitely. That’s a given, Mike.  

>> MIKE: If we can do these little actions guys, we could really help these birds to thrive and... 

>> EMILY: ...thrive and survive... 

>> MIKE: ...every year. 

>> EMILY: So, thanks for joining us today at Boondall Wetlands to learn about migratory shorebirds. 

>> MIKE: I hope you’ve found it really interesting and I hope you remember about the actions that you can take to help protect and look after these birds. 

>> EMILY: Brilliant. We hope we see you soon. 

>> MIKE: Catch you later. 

Last updated: 21 July 2020