Melbourne support Floating roost trials​

Throughout the Flyway, roosting (resting) sites for migratory shorebirds are being impacted by coastal development, disturbance and sea-level rise drastically reducing their fitness, their ability to migrate successfully and ultimately produce young.

To date, the construction of artificial shorebird roosts has involved significant earthworks and hydrological alteration to create permanent, static structures. These interventions are successful in creating suitable shorebird habitat however can come at significant cost to land managers, have undesired effects on surrounding habitats and are subject to rapid degradation, particularly in intertidal habitats.

Floating roost sites; whether natural or artificial, may form preferential high-tide roost sites for a number of reasons. They are generally:

  • consistent throughout the tide cycle and immune to climate change induced sea-level rise.

  • Immune from terrestrial predators

  • Immune from vegetation colonisation

  • Can be relocated on, or adjacent to tidal feeding areas

BirdLife Australia are excited to announce a trial of artificial roosts modelled on floating, long-line oyster bags (LLOB) as a cheap, low-impact and adaptable alternative to traditional artificial roost construction for shorebirds.

As part of this floating roost trial, we will deploy 1,080 LLOB in coastal habitats in three sites in the East Asian Australasian Flyway. Trial roosts will be set up on the South East coast of Australia, and one in the Geum Estuary, Republic of Korea (ROK). We will undertake monitoring to see the response of shorebirds to these artificial roosting sites.

If successful, floating roost sites may be deployed in degraded and threatened internationally significant shorebird habitat throughout the flyway.

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Thank you to our major sponsors and partners, and our local branch BirdLife Melbourne who have supported the project with $6000.

Update November 23rd

The first Floating Roost Trial has been successfully rolled-out across three sites at Melbourne Water’s Western Treatment Plant and Parks Vic’s Spit Conservation Reserve. Thanks to the small team that contributed a Herculean effort across the 2 day install and to Parks Victoria and Melbourne Water for their continued support across the sites. Thanks Also to TNC for providing the oyster shell.

We managed to skirt all the major storms, banjo sharks and clouds of Sharpies to install 360 bags across; the northern Spit CR, T-Section pond 6 and the coast south of the Little River Bird Hide.

CEE consultants have conducted pre-assessments on the intertidal ecology around the bags and in the coming week we will deploy thermologgers (in colab with Deakin Uni) in order to assess the thermal properties of the roosts compared to current natural sites.

We’ll also be deploying live streaming remote cameras, funds raised at the Trivia night in Melbourne will go towards these, cameras are $800 each.

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These cameras are used to monitor the colonisation of the roosts, but will largely be relying on observer records. if you would like to get involved or any queries please contact me at

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

Thanks again.

Chris Purnell

Wetland Birds Program Manager

Ps: As we waded back from the final install site at Little River, a single Crested Tern arrived and landed on the bags. Hopefully a good omen.