Let’s switch off light pollution for shorebirds!

Artificial light can be harmful to birds, particularly nocturnal shorebirds, even from long distances. Play your part to help our birds by reducing your light pollution.


DESCRIPTION: An animated video. At night, two seabirds fly along a headland, toward a radiant full moon. As they round a cliff face, they change course and head toward artificial light emanating from buildings along a pier. A broken line measures the distance between the birds and the pier. Text: 15 km.

SPEAKER: Artificial light can be harmful to birds, particularly nocturnal seabirds and shorebirds, even from long distances.

DESCRIPTION: The bright, white glow of artificial light flickers over three tired magpie larks, huddled in a nest. A seabird flies, guided by the moon. The light of a ship’s mast turns on. The bird collides with the mast.

SPEAKER: It can disrupt their sleep, breeding, migration, and cause collisions.

DESCRIPTION: Two birds sleep on the bank of a creek. Bright light pours out from the windows of a nearby home, startling the birds awake. A stalking cat emerges from the tall grass.


SPEAKER: It reduces their ability to forage and can make them vulnerable to predators, particularly fledglings.

DESCRIPTION: A white glow illuminates a flock of flustered seagulls on a rocky outcrop. The seagulls become calm as the light dims.

SPEAKER: To help Australia’s birds, avoid illuminating their feeding and resting areas, or migration pathways.

DESCRIPTION: A flock of seabirds fret as they fly over of a brightly lit pier. The birds settle as the lights of the pier turn amber.

SPEAKER: Reduce light during breeding and migration seasons.

DESCRIPTION: A bird rests under a bright, white light on a ship’s mast. The light turns amber. The bird looks up, then flies toward the light of the moon.

SPEAKER: Limit use of artificial light around jetties, wharves, marinas and at sea.

DESCRIPTION: Two birds pass by an open gate. Beyond the gate, a floodlight above the front door of a home casts a bright, white glow. The floodlight runs off, and a series of low, amber coloured ground lights turn on.

SPEAKER: And use low intensity, appropriate coloured light only where and when you really need.

DESCRIPTION: The seagulls on the rocky outcrop sleep. Another flock of birds fly in the distance.

SPEAKER: Play your part to help our birds by reducing your light pollution.

DESCRIPTION: A URL on screen:  awe.gov.au/light-pollution

SPEAKER: Consult the National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife to find out more about how you can help.

DESCRIPTION: Text on screen reads: Let’s switch off light pollution together. The Commonwealth Coat of Arms Appears above the text: Australian Government - Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.

SPEAKER: Let’s switch off light pollution together.


Light pollution confuses migratory shorebirds

Artificial light disrupts navigation, roosting and feeding

  • Shorebirds prefer nocturnal rest sites (roosts) that are free from artificial light.
  • Artificial light makes migrating birds lose their way and choose low-quality rest and feeding sites.
  • A lack of unlit roosts nearby prevents shorebirds from using otherwise suitable feeding grounds.
  • Many shorebirds avoid feeding at sites with artificial light.
Sunset with birds in foreground
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Which lights are most harmful?

  • Lighting near feeding grounds or nocturnal roosts excludes shorebirds from the area.
  • Artificial lights along migratory paths (including at sea) cause migrating birds to lose their way.
  • Mobile light sources (vehicles, vessels, torches) cause birds to fly away from feeding or resting sites.
  • Many collisions occur at offshore oil and gas platforms.

Protecting popular shorebird sites from light pollution is a high conservation priority.

Fifty-seven species of migratory shorebirds (waders) spend part of the year around Australia’s coastline and at inland lakes and wetlands. Of these, 37 are listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and 10 are threatened. Abundance peaks between August and April, however some juvenile birds are present year-round. Many species feed day and night, as foraging opportunities depend on tides.

How you can help

  • Avoid lighting in and around shorebird habitat, including feeding sites and nocturnal roosts.
  • Stop mobile lights (headlights, vessel floodlights, torches) from shining into shorebird habitat.
  • Maintain natural barriers (dunes, vegetation) between sources of artificial light (roads, buildings) and feeding and roost areas.
  • Use timers, sensors and dimmers to keep light use to a minimum in nearby areas.
  • Avoid high-intensity lighting of any colour.
  • Keep night-time gas flares and structure lighting to a minimum on oil and gas platforms.