The Bar-tailed Godwit is a small migratory shorebird that features on the Parramatta River. In Spring each year, the birds fly 11,000km from the Arctic Circle to feed along our foreshores before making the long flight back home in Autumn.

However, the number of visits by Bar-tailed Godwits and other migratory shorebird species to our area have been on a steady decline. One of the biggest threats to them is being disturbed while foraging along the foreshore. This means they are unable to feed sufficiently, which makes it unlikely they will be able to make the long flight back home. You can help protect these precious birds from the brink of extinction by making small changes in your behaviour, such as keeping your dog on a leash when walking along the foreshore.

Art competition

Godwit illustration by Elizabeth from Russell Lea Public School

Godwit illustration by Elizabeth from Russell Lea Public School

To celebrate the arrival of migratory shorebirds, we are inviting young artists aged 5 to 14 years old to create a poster pledging what you and your family will do to protect threatened shorebirds.

Selected posters may be used in Council's community education campaign to help raise awareness of the need to protect these precious birds. Council will select 4 winners who will receive a prize pack worth $150!

Before entering, please make sure you read the terms and conditions.

What we are looking for:

  • Your poster must be an A3 or A4 size in portrait orientation.
  • In 25 words or less, write your pledge onto the poster in clear letters.
  • Make key features of your poster as large as possible.
  • Try to keep your poster background light so that the key features on your poster will stand out and be recognisable from a distance.
  • Watch the dirtgirl video to get some tips on what you can do to help protect migratory shorebirds in the local area.
  • Each person can submit up to three entries.

How to enter:

Complete the entry form and attach a photo of your drawing. Keep the original poster in a safe place, as Council may request for it to be posted to us at a later date.

Entries close on Monday, 27 September 2021 at 5pm.



According to Bird Life Australia, between 2008 and 2011, over 300 Godwits were recorded in the Parramatta River estuary. That number has been on a steady decline and in the 2018-19 season, the maximum seen was 91.

It's not only the number of Bar-tailed Godwits that are dwindling — Birdlife Australia has also tracked a decline in other migratory shorebird species, such as the Curlew Sandpiper and the Pacific Golden Plover. These declines represent a significant cause for concern for our City and it is vital that Council show leadership in maintaining the delicate balance between lifestyle, development, and the natural environment.

Some threats to Bar-Tailed Godwits visiting our foreshore include:

  • Disturbances by off-leash dogs or people. Excessive disturbance like being chased by dogs can reduce the birds’ feeding time, or force them to move to less a suitable habitat.
  • Litter and pollution. All types of litter and pollution, including dog poo and contaminated water, can be devastating to birds. Polluted habitats provide less food, making it difficult for birds to complete their migration successfully.
  • Habitat modification. Activities such as fishing, urban development and invasive species can change the ecology of wetland habitats, resulting in the deterioration of the quantity and quality of food and other resources available to support migratory shorebirds.

How you can help

Local dogs on leash

Council will be delivering public education, signage upgrades, citizen science workshops and enforcement to educate residents about threats to migratory shorebirds and prevent their decline.

How you can help protect our shorebirds:

  • Keep your dog on a leash and do not approach birds
    This is compulsory, especially if you are walking your dog near the water’s edge, and will reduce the risk to feeding birds. In Spring and Summer, if you see Bar-tailed Godwits, Curlew Sandpipers or any other migratory shorebirds on the beach, keep well away because they are are sensitive to disturbances from people and dogs.
  • Place all your rubbish in the bin
    Litter can be devastating to birds. Remember to place all your rubbish in the bin and pick up any litter, especially in areas where birds feed.
  • Join a community clean up group
    Help clean up our foreshore and parks by joining a community clean up group through Council's Love Your Place program.
  • Migratory Shorebird Program by Birdlife Australia
    Support Birdlife Australia by participating in bird count events, volunteering and donating to help protect birds in our local area.

Community efforts

Abbotsford Public School

Students, teachers, parents and members of the community at Abbotsford Public School have played a significant role in raising awareness about the plight of migratory shorebirds.

In 2016, the school worked with Birdlife Australia and Our Living River to launch the Dog Saves Bird campaign, encouraging dog owners to keep their dogs on a leash in order to protect the Bar-tailed Godwits. With funding from Council, students illustrated and designed signage to share this important message. The signs have since been installed along Hen & Chicken Bay in Five Dock and Wareemba.

To raise the profile of the campaign further, the school embedded learning about the birds and the importance of local wetlands within the school curriculum. Books about the Bar-tailed Godwits were purchased for each classroom and reusable coffee cups promoting the Dog Saves Bird campaign were also introduced and promoted at community events.

Annual Spring Clean

Each October, during Riverfest Week, Council organises a Spring Clean. Residents from across the City are invited to roll up their sleeves and take part in the Spring Clean for the Shorebirds, to help protect their habitat from the threats of litter and pollution. The event is supported by Birdlife Australia and Parramatta River Catchment Group, who come along to play games and educate the community about the biodiversity along the Parramatta River.

Community Clean Up Volunteers

The Love Your Place volunteers regularly clean up around Hen & Chicken Bay and Rodd Park with the aim of keeping the foreshore litter-free. Come rain or shine this group of dedicated volunteers work on Wednesdays (at Halliday Park) and Fridays (at Rodd Park), and welcome everyone to join in the clean up.

Our community's pledge

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