Top 10 tips to protect yourself from swooping birds
Swooping birds may be a frightening or even a dangerous experience. Native birds can swoop in urban and rural areas, in parks and gardens, along bike tracks and in school yards, or anywhere that birds are nesting.
Know your local swooping hotspots - Keep informed about parks, schoolyards and bike trails in your local area by reading your local newspapers, viewing Victoria’s ‘Magpie Map’ on ww.depi.vic.gov.au/swoop or contacting your local council.
Avoid the area - The best way to protect yourself from a swooping bird, is to avoid venturing into their territory.
Move quickly - If you must pass through the area – move quickly – but do not run.
Cover your head - Wear a hat or carry a stick or umbrella above your head. Cyclists should wear a helmet, dismount and walk through the area.
Eyes at the back of your head - Birds may be less likely to swoop if they think you are watching them. Draw a pair of ‘eyes’ and attach to the back of hats and helmets. A printable set of ‘eyes’ is available to download on the DEPI website at www.depi.vic.gov.au/swoop.
Do not harass wildlife - Don’t interfere with or throw stones at birds. This gives them added reason to see humans as a threat and may increase swooping behaviour.
Do not destroy nests - This may prompt birds to rebuild their nests, prolonging the swooping behaviour.
Don’t feed swooping birds.
Travel in a group - If possible, try to travel in a group in areas where there are swooping birds.
Notify others - Put up warning signs for others who may not be aware that there are swooping birds in the area, or ask your council to do so.
Mark a bird-swooping area on Victoria’s ‘Magpie Map’at www.depi.vic.gov.au/swoop
Tweet @depi_vic with the location details and include #swoopvic
Send photographs of birds for the Swoop Flickr page. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Australian Magpies are widespread and common in Victoria, especially in suburbs and farmland. They are impressive birds with their distinctive black and white plumage and melodic warbling.
Magpies breed from August to October. Their nests are usually made of small branches and twigs, grass and other plant material. Nests made of wire and other non-natural materials have also been found.
Magpies are very protective of their young and may swoop on intruders if they feel threatened.
Magpie-larks look similar to Australian Magpies, however they are smaller and have more white on their feathers, especially on the belly. They are commonly found in urban parks and gardens. They are sometimes known as Mudlarks or Peewees.
Magpie-larks breed from January to December and build a solid bowl for a nest made from mud and plant material.
Magpie-lark attacks are less common, though people have been seriously injured by this species. Most attacks are only bluff, however some birds have been known to make contact by either scratching and pecking people's heads or eyes.
Australia's largest Kingfishers, Laughing Kookaburras, are renowned for their distinctive, loud laugh. They are predominantly dark brown on the back and upper wings with patches of pale blue on the wings.
Kookaburras live in groups, sometimes in the suburbs if there are suitable tree hollows for nesting.
During the breeding season from September to January, Kookaburras attack their reflection in windows. Feeding Kookaburras encourages this behaviour.
Red Wattlebirds have mainly dark grey-brown feathers streaked with white and a large patch of yellow on the belly. They are extremely active, noisy and quarrelsome, with a loud, harsh and varied call.
The breeding season extends from July to December and usually only one brood is raised.
The nest is a bulky shallow cup of twigs, grass and bark fragments lined with soft material, placed in a tree several metres from the ground.
They are very common in urban areas and may swoop and snap their beak if a person passes close to their nests. They are unlikely to make contact and cause injury.
Grey Butcher birds resemble a grey and white, half-sized magpie. Their flight-feathers are black with a white stripe and they have a white patch between the beak and eyes.
Grey Butcher birds have a beautiful, melodic warble and a discordant chortling call. They build a strong cup-like nest made of fine twigs, grass and other plant material and breed from July to January.
They live in a wide range of woodlands and open forests and are quite common in some urban parks and gardens. Grey Butcher birds, like Australian Magpies, may swoop if they feel threatened.
Commonly called plovers, Masked Lapwings are long-legged ground birds, with a light brown back and white breast and belly. They are black on the head, side of the neck and flight feathers. Their broad wings have sharp, yellow spurs. They have a yellow ring around the eye and a yellow, fleshy shield on the forehead, which extends down on either side of the beak.
Masked Lapwings have a strident and rapid 'Kerk Kerk Kerk Kerk' call and are noisy at dusk, or when alarmed by potential intruders.
Masked Lapwings live in wetlands and grassy woodlands, as well as paddocks and playing fields. They nest on the ground or on a flat roof, and may swoop to protect eggs or their young from July to November when breeding.