Phillip Island Shearwater Bird Migration

Turning the lights off for take-off

Every Autumn, we work with Phillip Island Nature Parks to help with the safe migration of the Short-tailed Shearwater birds. Short-tailed Shearwaters are a threatened species.

These migratory seabirds visit Phillp Island (Millowl*) every year to breed. They raise just one chick and then migrate 16,000km back to Alaska, leaving their chicks behind to mature.

Once the young Shearwater chicks are old enough to fly, all 700,000 of them embark on their first ever migration to the northern hemisphere in early May. Without the adult birds to guide them, getting safely off the island can be a challenge. The chicks get disorientated by bright lights and many of them end up flying off-course. They can end up on the roads, endangering themselves and motorists, and Phillip Island rangers work round the clock rescuing and attending to the injured birds.

To give them the best chance of survival and a smooth take-off on their journey to Alaska, we turn off the lights on the San Remo Bridge for several days when the migration begins. It's something small we can do to make a big difference in keeping our feathered friends on course.

The local community also get involved by turning off their outdoor lights and taking extra care on the roads, keeping an eye out for any lost or injured birds.

*Millowl is the name given to Phillip Island by the Bunurong People, the Traditional Owners of the island’s Lands and Waters. 

Turn Off for Take-Off!

If you live near Phillip Island, here’s a few things you can do to help:

  • Turn off any outdoor lighting at your home or business at night during the migration period (usually late April to early May)
  • Drive slowly and be extra careful on the roads
  • Follow us and Phillip Island Nature Parks on Facebook so you can stay up to date when the migration begins.

Phillip Island Shearwater bird migration