The Bar-tailed Godwit is a feature and a symbol of the Parramatta River, a small migratory shore bird that arrives in our City around August each year to feed along our waters.

Bar-tailed Godwits are the world record holders for non-stop flight — they have been recorded travelling 11,000km from Alaska to New Zealand in eight days, flying at an average of more than 50km/h without sleeping, eating or resting!

In recent years the number of visits by the Godwits to our area have been steady decline. Birdlife Australia has also tracked a decline in other migratory shorebird species such as the Curlew Sandpiper and the Pacific Golden Plover.

Some of the key threats to migratory shorebirds are off-leash dogs in breeding areas and litter and pollution in the river.


Our pledge

We are committing up to $35,000 to develop a biodiversity program which addresses threats to shorebirds such as Bar-Tailed Godwits. Download the full Council report here.


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Godwit

The issue

In recent years the number of visits by the Godwits to our area have been steady decline. According to Bird Life Australia, between 2008 and 2011, over 300 Godwits were recorded in the Parramatta River estuary. In the 2018-19 season, the maximum seen was 91.

It's not only the Bar-tailed Godwit’s numbers 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.

Bar-tailed Godwits are vulnerable to a number of threats when making their visit to our shores, especially disturbances from humans as a result of recreational activities. When chased by dogs, Godwits stop feeding and may not eat enough to fly back to the Arctic Circle to breed.

Our Protection Plan

We plan to deliver public education, signage upgrades, citizen science workshops and enforcement to educate residents about threats to migratory shorebirds and prevent their decline.

Some of the key threats to migratory shorebirds are off leash dogs in key breeding areas and litter and pollution in the river. Addressing these issues is vitally important to our City – the Bar-tailed Godwit is emblematic of the heath and diversity of the Parramatta River.

Council’s Draft Biodiversity Framework identifies these key matters within the action plan, and to further support this, Council’s Draft Dog in Public Places Strategy has identified proposed changes to foreshore areas aiming to address the threats associated with dogs and shorebirds. To support the adoption of these programs and changes, Council officers will carry out enforcement which supports the implementation.

The Draft Biodiversity Framework also acknowledges the work in 2016 by Abbotsford Public School, with Council's support, who launched the ‘Dog Saves Bird’ program. The signage, which included artwork created by students, was placed along the foreshore pathway of Hen and Chicken Bay as well as nearby Henry Lawson Park and Halliday Park and sought to educate the community about the risks that domestic dogs pose to Bar-tailed Godwits and other shorebirds. In implementing this project, Council will work with Abbotsford School to expand the project into other local schools.

Our program will use the Dog Saves Bird schools campaign as its foundation and include the design and installation of further signage and a broad education campaign.