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Mineral extraction sites that are restored to open water can increase bird-strike risk if they are planned near airports. This can generate conflict between the minerals industry and safeguarding authorities. To help resolve this potential conflict, it would be useful to predict how new restorations affect local water-bird populations so that mineral deposits can be exploited and restored in safeguarded zones without compromising flight safety. Bird abundances and movements at new restorations can be estimated with statistical models that use the environmental characteristics of restoration schemes as predictor variables. These models can improve guidance in safeguarding, provided that they comprise parameters that can be quantified or conceived at the planning stage. In this paper, we present suitable models based on bird counts conducted during 2004–2006 at 256 open-water restoration sites. We used the morphology of the restorations, their geo-spatial relationships, ecological characteristics and usage as explanatory variables in regression models that describe waterbird abundances, the likely presence of geese and gulls, and the frequency of bird movements in the nonbreeding and breeding seasons. The models that can best be used as predictive tools were selected using multi-modal inference techniques. We demonstrated how their application can provide objective data on the likely impact a restoration design will have on bird-strike risk.