Thirty-seven speices of shorebirds have been recorded at Lake MacLeod. Of these, 28 are trans-equatorial migrants that travel along the East Asia-Australasian Flyway to breed in the northern hemisphere, and 9 are nomadic Australian residents that move around the continent in response to rainfall. Seven of the migratory species have recently been listed as threatened primarily due to destruction of wetlands along their flyway.
Surveys between 1990 and 2006 showed that Lake MacLeod hosts 'significant' populations of at least 10 shorebird species - high enough to meet the Ramsar wetland criteria for international importance. Three species - Red Knot, Red-necked Stint and Curlew Sandpiper, have occurred in internationally significant numbers (more than 1% of their flyway populations). The maximum number of Curlew Sandpipers recorded equalled 31% of the entire flyway population.