Sanctuary will protect shorebirds

A bird sanctuary second only to the Coorong in size and significance, will be created on Adelaide’s northern coast. The Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary stretches 60 kms along our coastline from Barker Inlet to Port Parham and will help protect the summer feeding grounds for the estimated 25,000 shorebirds that make an annual migration.

 Migratory shorebirds travel the East Asian–Australasian Flyway travelling through 22 countries to reach our shores from as far away as Alaska and Siberia each year. These birds spend their summer here foraging on the tidal flats around our coast feeding on small insects, worms, spiders, gnats and snails; they also eat biofilm, a thin layer of nutritious slime on the sand. These birds average 22-25,000km in a round trip, they fly the distance to the moon and back in their life time. They need to eat as much as they can when they are here so they can build up their fat reserves necessary to complete the return journey to their arctic breeding grounds in the Northern hemisphere. 

The photo at right shows one of our resident shorebirds, the Red Capped Plover, who feed and lay their eggs on the beach.The eggs are crushed when people drive vehicles on the beach, or eaten when dogs are off leash. Every time we disturb these birds they are not feeding, and when  they are preparing for a long journey they need all the food they can eat.  Please be aware that if you visit our coastlines you need to keep your dog on a leash and don’t drive your vehicle on the beach.The Adelaide Bird Sanctuary encompasses Mallala, Munno Para and Salisbury councils. As a community we can all play an important role in protecting this world famous migratory pathway for future generations.This way our young people will have an opportunity to see these migratory travellers in real life, and not depend on documentaries to show what ecological value our coastlines did play within the life of these world travellers.

Shorebird Facts:

• Many years ago scientists were able to tag a Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica). NASA tracked this bird’s flight of 11,000km, the Godwit travels non-stop from Alaska to New Zealand and flies for nine days without eating, drinking or stopping to sleep

• In preparation for the journey Godwits eat so much, they double their body weight. To do that, their intestines and gizzard, not much needed in flight, literally shrink, making space for more fat.

• They burn half their body weight as they fly, and sleep, bird-style, by shutting down one side of the brain at a time

It is believed the Maori discovered New Zealand after following them on their southward migration

• For more information contact our councils and ask how you can be involved in protecting this environmental asset that is on our door step. Or contact Birdlife project officer, jean.turner@birdlife.org.au and please help spread the word

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