|Victorians are being reminded that with spring in the air, so too are swooping birds – so get your plan together early to avoid becoming a target during the breeding season.
Native birds, such as magpies and masked lapwings, swoop as a method to defend their young for the six to eight weeks between when they hatch and when they leave the nest.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Senior Wildlife Management Officer, Amanda Ashton said whilst less than 10 per cent of swooping birds actually swoop, you should have a plan of action if you’re worried.
“A small number of birds will swoop at this time of year. They do this to protect their eggs and young – we are all protective of our families!” Ms Ashton said.
“Swooping by a territorial bird is actually normal bird behaviour, although it’s definitely not fun for their targets. Birds may swoop people or animals, so be mindful of your pets too.”
When birds swoop, they rarely make actual contact; and whilst it’s hard to understand this in the moment, as you hear swooshing sounds, screeching and beak clapping of the birds near you, it’s worth knowing that your reactions can help reduce any real harm.
“Swooping is essentially a scare tactic to warn people and animals not to come near the nesting young,” Ms Ashton said.
“If you have a plan of action and try to keep your distance, you’re already halfway to living harmoniously with wildlife and keeping yourself safe at the same time.
“To reduce the impact of swooping, try to remain as calm as you can if you find yourself being swooped.
“Do try to protect your head and eyes and move quickly – but don’t run, as this actually upsets the birds.
“It’s very important not to do anything to threaten the swooping birds – or interfere with their nests – or to feed them, and to remember that they’re simply protecting their young.”
The best way to avoid being swooped is to know your local hotspots and avoid the area altogether, although this is not always possible or practical.
To plan your route around known swooping hotspots or to report a swooping incident by any species of bird, and mark its location on Victoria’s interactive swooping bird map, please visit https://www.wildlife.vic.gov.au/managing-wildlife/swooping-birds
Magpies and other native birds are protected in Victoria under the Wildlife Act 1975. Under the Act, it is an offence to kill, take, control or harm wildlife in Victoria. Penalties apply to those found in breach.