Feathered foreigners you’ll see flocking to flee freezing habitats

We don't need superlatives to explain these birds

(Breakfast)
Millions of shorebirds are flying for their lives

Flying for their lives Every year, millions of shorebirds fly between Australia and the Arctic. Some are big, some are tiny, some have pretty chuckle-worthy names, but all of these birds fly tens of thousands of kilometres just to get here.Australia is the summer home for a variety of migratory birds; the visitors coming to feed while their Arctic homes are frozen over. (Wikimedia Commons: Andrea Trepte)
Often mistaken as an eastern curlew, Numenius phaeopus is also a curlew, though a bit smaller than its eastern relative.The whimbrel breeds in central Siberia and across to Iceland with the subspecies variegatus the one that visits Australia for summer.Though they prefer mangroves and estuarine mudflats, they can also be spotted on beaches and rocky shores, briskly pecking for worms, molluscs and the occasional fish.They are listed as secure throughout Australia.Red-necked stint

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The tiny red-necked stint travels from Siberia and Alaska right down to Tasmania. (Supplied: Dan Weller / Birdlife Australia)
Limosa lapponica holds the record for the longest non-stop flight of a migratory bird, having been tracked 11,000 kilometres from Alaska to New Zealand in eight days without landing.Bar-tailed godwits are large waders, with mottled-brown feathers and a long, thin bill.They are more often found in northern Tasmania, liking mangroves and estuarine mudflats, but they do venture further south to Tasmanian beaches.The bar-tailed godwit subspecies menzbieri is listed as critically endangered federally and the subspecies baueri is listed as vulnerable.Whimbrel

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The whimbrel breed across northern Europe from Siberia to Iceland. It could fit on the palm of your hand.The tiny bird is a sandpiper found in flocks all around Australia’s coast foraging in intertidal and near coastal wetlands.The red-necked stint is listed as secure throughout Australia. (Supplied: Dan Weller)
Just like the bigger birds above, Calidris ruficollis flies about 25,000 kilometres between its breeding ground on the Arctic tundra and its Australian feeding grounds each year.The red-necked stint is one of the smallest wading birds, weighing just 20 to 25 grams. (Wikimedia Commons: JJ Harrison)
Calidris acuminata is a medium-sized wader with a dark-coloured bill and short tail.The sharp-tailed sandpiper breeds in Arctic Siberia and can be found throughout Australia in our summer preferring the grassy edges of shallow inland fresh water.They eat aquatic insects, worms, molluscs and sometimes seeds and are often seen in large flocks.They are listed as secure throughout Australia.Bar-tailed godwit

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The bar-tailed godwit has the longest non-stop flight of any migratory bird. But for many, this will be their last flight. Wetlands are often the chosen home for these seasonal species and now is a good time to go and see them, said Eric Woehler from BirdLife Tasmania.”These birds are travelling a minimum of 25,000 kilometres every year just in migration,” he told Ryk Goddard on ABC Radio Hobart.”Over their lifetime they fly farther than the distance between the Earth and the Moon.”Here are just five migratory birds you might spot in Tasmania:Eastern curlew

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The critically endangered eastern curlew escapes northern winters for an Aussie summer. (Supplied: Silva Vaughan-Jones, Hastings Birdwatchers)
Also known as the far eastern curlew, Numenius madagascariensis is a large shorebird with a long, thin beak.They are the largest wading bird that visits Australia, with about 75 per cent of the world’s curlew population spending Northern Hemisphere winters in Australia.They breed in north-eastern Asia, including Siberia and northern Mongolia.In Australia they are found on intertidal mudflats, sandflats and sheltered coastal areas.They forage by day and night, eating small crabs and molluscs.The eastern curlew is listed as critically endangered.Sharp-tailed sandpiper

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The little sharp-tailed sandpiper is often seen in large flocks.
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(Wikimedia Commons: JJ Harrison) ABC Radio Hobart

By

Carol Rääbus

Posted

February 02, 2018 11:38:32

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Our warmer months are the time to see the migratory birds that visit Australia from their Arctic homes.
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