Birdwatching

Hundreds of different bird species – some rare and endangered – can be spotted at our Western Treatment Plant, as well as along Melbourne’s waterways and wetlands.

Whether you’re a beginner birdwatcher or experienced ‘twitcher’, discover our key locations and species you might encounter, and find out if you need a birdwatching permit.

Western Treatment Plant birdwatching

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update:
The Western Treatment Plant has re-opened to existing birdwatching permit holders, including those with permits expiring between March 2020 and March 2021. No new birdwatching permits are currently being issued due to limited staff on site, but we are working towards re-opening new permit applications by mid-March 2021. For details, read our announcement.

Group of birdwatchers walking from the Western Treatment Plant bird hide
Birdlife Australia members at the Western Treatment Plant bird hide (photograph taken prior to physical distancing rules).

One of Victoria’s most popular birdwatching sites, Werribee’s Western Treatment Plant welcomes birds from as far away as Siberia.

The plant’s lagoons, grasslands and coastline provide an ideal and varied habitat – offering a permanent water supply, plenty of food, and little interference from humans. Much of the surrounding areas have been recognised as a wetland of international significance under the Ramsar Convention.

You must have a permit to birdwatch at the Western Treatment Plant, and follow all signage and COVID-safe requirements upon entering the site.

COVIDSafe requirements

Birdwatchers are expected to abide by current Victorian coronavirus (COVID-19) government restrictions and COVID-safe requirements:

  • Upon entering the site, all birdwatchers are expected to individually sign in by scanning a QR code. Signage explaining this process is positioned at each entrance. Birdwatchers do not need to register their visit through our Customer Service Centre.
  • There is no access past Gate 8 and the Austin Road birdhide – see updated Western Treatment Plant Birdwatching Access map (PDF, 233KB).
  • Maintain physical distancing: keep at least 1.5 metres between yourself and others. Do not congregate in large groups.
  • Wear a mask in birdhides and toilets, and adhere to the maximum number of people allowed.
  • Sanitise touch points before and after use. Supply and use your own handwashing products – we do not provide sanitiser, soap, water or hand towels.
  • Take all rubbish home with you.
     

Apply for a birdwatching permit

Bird species at the Western Treatment Plant

Other birdwatching locations

Eastern Treatment Plant

Eastern Treatment Plant, birdlife in the lagoon
Birdlife at the Eastern Treatment Plant lagoons.

The Eastern Treatment Plant is home to a large native bird population, including many species of regional, state and national significance.

The plant provides habitat for large numbers of migratory waders, which arrive around August and leave for the northern hemisphere between February and May. Some travel up to 24,000 kilometres a year.

Birdlife Australia organises monthly bird surveys, typically held every fourth Sunday from 9am until early evening. Numbers are restricted and booking is essential – so keep an eye on their events calendar.
 

Bird species at the Eastern Treatment Plant

Volunteer with Birdlife Australia

Edithvale-Seaford Wetland

Woman and child with binoculars look out the window of the centre into the wetland
Students can learn more about the wetland at our nearby education centre.

At any one time, up to 7,000 birds are estimated to reside at the Edithvale-Seaford Wetland – the largest remaining natural wetland of its kind in Greater Melbourne.

The wetland is circled by an extensive walking and cycling trail with elevated viewing platforms. On the weekends the Friends of Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands staff a nearby bird hide with excellent views of the wetland, which schools can learn more about by booking a visit to our nearby Education Centre.

You do not need a permit to birdwatch at the wetland.
 

Edithvale-Seaford Wetland Education Centre

Friends of Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands  

Local rivers and creeks

Man and baby sit by waterway surrounded by birds
Birds at the Darebin Parklands

Melbourne’s rivers and creeks offer 25,000 kilometres of opportunities for spotting our feathered friends. Get to know your river and its inhabitants – download a wildlife guide on the following pages:

Last updated:
4 March 2021