Tale Feathers! About Shorebirds

Tale Feathers! About Shorebirds

Tale Feathers! About Shorebirds. Shorebirds are the birds that are found on the seaside. They look for their food around the water areas. Like in sand, mud, and water. They may feed on worms, crabs, fish and insects in the area. And possibly whatever leftover picnic lunches people leave behind.

ManButur Suantara. Wildlife Photography Sawidji Studio Art and Photography.

See them in Nature. Hear them in Nature. Understand and respect them in Nature.

~ManButur Suantara

An Introduction to Shorebirds

According to the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, which is otherwise known as WHSRN, a shorebird is…

“Shorebirds are a diverse group of birds in the order Charadriiformes, including sandpipers, plovers, avocets, oystercatchers, and phalaropes. There are approximately 217 recognized species of shorebirds in the world, 81 of which occur in the Americas for all or part of their lifecycle. 52 species breed in North America, and 35 species breed in Central America, the Caribbean, and South America”


Across all the areas that are mentioned where you will find these Shorebirds, there is not often mentioned of their appearance in many Asian isles. Even though many are found home in the Americas there are a few species that find their way to the tropical island of Bali during their interesting travels.

NGS Picture Id:2681705
Illustration and map depicting the length and timing of bird migrations by National Geographic.

Even Birds Need a Tropical Holiday

When it gets colder in the north side of the globe the shorebirds do their yearly ritual of taking their vacation to the warmer climates. To find warm weather, the birds from the south travel north. From the northern hemisphere, they travel south. Not that much different from tourists.

However, this ritual is a process that is necessary for their survival. Indonesia is one of their most popular transit destinations. So it seems that Bali island is not just a popular vacation destination for tourists. It seems that Shorebirds have known about our islands’ many charms as well.

Recently, ManButur was out to his knees in the mudflats of Serangan Beach, all to meet up and get the insider’s angle from our travelling friends. Through the eyes of the camera, we get to see the Shorebirds up close and personal.

He caught images of the Curlew Sandpiper and the Black-tailed godwit.

Illegal Citizens!

The main reason they travel is to avoid the harsh cold climate in their native country. They spend the necessary 3-4 months in our warmer climate enjoying food and accommodation. It is fascinating that some birds realise it’s warm here and they decide to make this their permanent home. They become residents. Well, why wouldn’t you? you don’t have to apply for a visa! No immigration laws stopping the shorebirds from becoming foreign residents in Indonesian islands.

It’s a benefit to our ecosystem. They do not pose any conflict it seems. Their behaviour is not territorial. Some of them continue into a breeding season here. It is now coming into November and some shorebirds in Bali have been seen to be wearing their breeding season plumage. Perhaps these are the ones that have decided to stay.

The Importance of Global Community Awareness

There is an increasing need to raise global awareness regarding the behaviours of migratory birds. Because as global citizens, we share this responsibility. Responsibility for the survival and sustainability of migratory species. They are the most endangered group of bird species in the world.

Indonesia is an important location for the transit of the migration journey. When migratory birds follow their patterns and arrive here, the changes brought about by urbanisation and pollution impact their navigation. And this can be detrimental to the overall success of their migration journey.

World Migratory Bird Day

So, this responsibility issuing recognised and there is even a day to remind us of this. May 10th every year celebrates ‘World Migratory Bird Day’. This is a step in the right direction. As it teaches us so many things. Not just to take care of Nature in our own backyard. In taking care of our own backyard, we are in fact taking care of Nature from other areas from all over the world.

We hope that the Shorebirds from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres can continue to journey each year through our warm islands and be safe whilst in our care. They can flourish in the warmer months, feeding well and perhaps breeding as well. Ensuring healthy population growth and regeneration into the coming years.

What do you find most intriguing about them?

In the visual way, the Shorebirds all look quite similar to each other. They have slight differences that indicate they are a different species. I find it amazing that out of sheer survival instinct they will know to travel thousands of miles away from home. And they know how to get back. And they travel together in the thousands and pair for life.

~ManButur Suantara

The Dating Habits of Shorebirds, some interesting facts..

Referencing some interesting information about some species of Shorebirds that reside in Australia. It is generally the case that most migratory Shorebirds are typically monogamous. Meaning that they pair for life and don’t change partners. It’s been observed that monogamous species also are faithful to their breeding site. They tend to go back to the same nest. They build a home and they protect it. Something even more interesting is that some sandpipers may even lay two clutches of eggs. One is incubated by the male and the other by the female.

Then we see another similarity across human behaviour and wildlife. In the instances where Shorebirds are polygamous, the male will partner with several females and leave all parental duties to the female. This lack of commitment extends even to the nest site. The males in polygamous species don’t care about home. They do not spend time to return to it or protect it from predators or other shorebirds.

What did you learn from your study of this bird?

Life is tough. Anything you can learn from life’s journey that helps you survive you should take that opportunity. Failure is when you stop trying.

~ ManButur Suantara

Wildlife Photography and Bird Enthusiasts aid in Conservation.

Photographers and their communities often pool together information on central platforms. Sharing information brings to light many discoveries about different species. Identifiers, behaviours, locations. This data is useful for researchers to understand changes in the environment. Specifically for Shorebirds, you may wish to look into http://www.whrsn.org. This stands for the Western Hemisphere Shorebirds Reservation Network. A great source of accurate information.

In Indonesia we share a lot of information with other countries through platforms such as ‘Burung Laut Indonesia‘ (Seabird Indonesia) and E Bird. These platforms and programs make it possible for even hobbyists to register and record sightings etc. The ability to place information in a central location makes this powerful globally.

Tale Feathers About Shorebirds
A flock of Shorebirds along our Bali Coastline

Human Impact on Shorebirds

There are studies that have been done that show human disturbance in migration sites have a negative impact on shorebird movement patterns. One such example is documented.

The disturbance was implicated as a potential factor in long-term declines in shorebird abundance at Plymouth Beach. The impacts of disturbance could be reduced. Or perhaps eliminated by closing one or more small portions of the front beach as refuge resting areas during migration. www.sciencedirect.com

The Legend of the Sandpiper in Aboriginal Dreamtime

We like to find a little something extra special for those of you reading Tale Feathers and this is something meaningful about the Curlew Sandpiper. It comes from the Native Legends of the Dreamtime from Australia.

The Sandpiper is a good symbol for problem-solving and going great distances to achieve your goals. They send the message that if you don’t know how to do something you should keep trying. Because, then you may just discover a new way.

Curlew Sandpiper by ManButur Suantara
A beautiful Curlew Sandpiper by ManButur Suantara

The Sandpiper and the Goanna

In a Dreaming from north-eastern New South Wales (and one similar to EchidnaFrog and Koala), there was no water except for rain and dew; however a goanna always appeared sleek and sometimes had green slime speckled around his mouth. The tribespeople tried to spy on him; however he was too clever until Sandpiper offered to try. Sandpiper would run quickly for a short distance then if Goanna turned to look, would immediately stand still so that he looked like a dry stick or sapling.

This tactic of moving has remained with Sandpiper to this day. He finally tracked Goanna to the source of water, which was a hole in the rocks. Sandpiper killed Goanna, but as he didn’t know the secret way of stopping the water from coming out, it flowed freely and made all the waterholes and rivers. Sandpiper’s efforts are appreciated today, for he was the one who brought water to the people.

~ Referenced from Nativesymbols.info

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