Feathers, flyways and fast food

Original by Dr Margaret Rowe, 2002
Last revised by the Department of the Environment and Heritage, December 2004
ISBN 0 6425 4820 X

Threats to shorebirds

The East Asian-Australasian Flyway contains 45% of the world's population of humans.

Loss of habitat or food supply: Sometimes we drain wetlands for industrial or housing development or pollute the wetlands, killing the food supply. If an area is heavily used by people, birds may be disturbed so often that they cannot live there at all. Humans sometimes remove birds' food to use as bait, or for their own food.

Hunting: In some parts of the flyway shorebirds are hunted for food.

Pollution of habitat: Disposal of toxic substances and accidental spills of oil and other chemicals can, directly or indirectly, kill birds.

Disturbance: People sometimes use, for recreation, the beaches, lakes and mudflats that the birds need for survival. Disturbance: from people, animals such as dogs/foxes/horses, light aircraft, boats or jet skis make the birds fly to other parts of the shore, or even to other sites. This results in loss of feeding or resting time for the birds. Disturbances could affect the birds' ability to fatten up and get back to their breeding grounds fit enough to breed successfully.

Predators: Shorebirds and terns are hunted by birds such as eagles, hawks and falcons and by mammals such as Arctic wolves, foxes and cats.

Bad weather: Cyclones and bushfires can kill birds. Strong winds can blow birds way off their path; leading to death from exhaustion.