Seabirds are the most conspicuous life form inhabiting estuaries. Seabirds are defined as any species of bird which spends a substantial part of it's life foraging and breeding in the marine environment.

White-breasted Sea Eagle on the Georges River
Pelican on the Georges River
Pied Cormorants offshore from Towra Point Nature Reserve, Georges River

The Georges River estuary is a temporary stop to dozens of bird species who embark on the great East Asian-Australasian flyway, which includes breeding and foraging grounds in Siberia, North China, Alaska and Japan to Australia.

Seabirds such as dusky moorhens, striated herons, little terns, white-faced herons and cormorant species rely on staging points to 'refuel' during migration.

Towra Point Nature Reserve plays a role in the China-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement, a treaty between China and Australia to minimise harm to major areas of feeding, nesting, roosting and staging.

Towra Point wetlands provide a good variety of saltwater and freshwater habitats such as seagrass, mudflats, saltmarsh, mangrove, freshwater wetlands and sandbars.

Estuaries provide shallow water habitats beneficial to wading birds, otherwise known as shorebirds. Many wading birds are migratory and listed under international migratory bird agreements. Wading birds eat small fish, crustaceans, worms and mollusks and supply large amounts of nutrients back into the ecosystem.

Information on populations of migratory and resident seabirds can determine the importance of an estuary and provide an early warning of population decline.

Constructed island for shorebirds, Woolooware Bay
Pied Oystercatchers
DSC_3033 by mike193823319483 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Bar-tailed Godwits
IMG_9301 by Dan Armbrust is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Source:  “Georges River Estuary Handbook” (2012), a project of the Lower Georges River Sustainability Initiative