Nature conservation

Threatened species

Broad-billed Sandpiper - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Limicola falcinellus
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 13 Oct 2021


The Broad-billed Sandpiper is an uncommon, small, stint-like sandpiper reaching 18 cm in length. It is superficially like the more common Curlew Sandpiper, but smaller in size and with a smaller but distinctive, heavy bill that is longer than the head. The bill (the most distinguishing feature) is initially straight and tapering, then downturned and flattened, remaining quite broad at the tip. In non-breeding plumage, the forehead, crown, hind-neck and sides of neck are pale grey-brown, streaked black. The fore-neck and breast are pale grey-brown, with a fine dark streaking, and the underparts are mostly white. The head feathers have a snipe-like pattern, with two light stripes above the eyes and a dark median stripe.


The eastern form of this species breeds in northern Siberia before migrating southwards in winter to Australia. In Australia, Broad-billed Sandpipers overwinter on the northern coast, particularly in the north-west, with birds located occasionally on the southern coast. In NSW, the main site for the species is the Hunter River estuary, with birds occasionally reaching the Shoalhaven estuary. There are few records for inland NSW.

Habitat and ecology

  • Broad-billed Sandpipers favour sheltered parts of the coast such as estuarine sandflats and mudflats, harbours, embayments, lagoons, saltmarshes and reefs as feeding and roosting habitat. Occasionally, individuals may be recorded in sewage farms or within shallow freshwater lagoons. Broad-billed Sandpipers roost on banks on sheltered sand, shell or shingle beaches.
  • The species is an active forager, typically feeding by rapidly and repeatedly jabbing its bill into soft wet mud. Feeding also occurs while wading, often in water so deep that they have to submerge their heads and necks in order to probe the underlying mud. Their diet includes insects, crustaceans, molluscs, worms and seeds.
  • Individuals are strongly migratory and only mildly gregarious when not breeding. Large flocks are seldom recorded and birds are often either encountered alone or feeding with other waders such as Red-necked Stints or Curlew Sandpipers.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Predicted tidal influenced water bodies within 15 km of coast
NSW North CoastKaruah Manning Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known None
OceanBatemans Shelf Predicted None
OceanHawkesbury Shelf Known None
OceanManning Shelf Predicted None
OceanSouth Pacific Ocean Predicted None
OceanTweed-Moreton Predicted None
OceanTwofold Shelf Predicted None
Ocean - Other StateSouthern Australian Coastal Waters Known None
Other StateJervis Bay Territory Predicted None
Other StateQLD Known None
Other StateSA Known None
Other StateVIC Known None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Predicted tidal influenced water bodies within 15 km of coast
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known tidal influenced water bodies within 15 km of coast
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Predicted tidal influenced water bodies within 15 km of coast
Sydney BasinCumberland Known None
Sydney BasinHunter Known None
Sydney BasinIllawarra Known None
Sydney BasinJervis Known None
Sydney BasinPittwater Known None
Sydney BasinSydney Cataract Known None
Sydney BasinWyong Known None