Magpie and Masked Lapwing (Plover) pairs breed in spring (August – October) and their natural behaviour is to defend the territory around their nesting site. This may result in birds swooping either people, pets or other animals. Only some birds see people as a threat and most will not swoop you.
Swooping occurs for six to eight weeks, commencing when the adult pair is nesting and concluding when the young leave the nest. Swooping birds are displaying natural behaviour that is temporary and only occurs within the breeding season.
To reduce your chances of being swooped:
- Avoid the nest site and use an alternate route if possible;
- Do not deliberately provoke or harass the birds as this may make them more aggressive;
- Walk calmly through the area - DON’T RUN;
- Protect your head with a large, wide brim hat or carry an open umbrella; you can place eyes on the back of hats and umbrellas which may reduce the likelihood of the bird swooping;
- Wear glasses to protect your eyes;
- Keep an eye on the bird as they are less likely to swoop if you look at them; and
- Bike riders - dismount from your bike and walk through the bird’s territory and try fitting a bike flag to your bike or attaching cable ties/fake eyes to the back of your helmet.
If you feel a swooping bird has become a danger to people, it can be reported to the land owner, nearest National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) office (4632 4500) or Camden Council (4654 7777). NPWS and Camden Council can install warning signs to alert members of public to swooping birds.
Magpies and Plovers are protected by the National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974 and harming these native birds and/or their nests is illegal. Native birds have their place in the Australian ecosystem and it is important that we live with wildlife so we can co-exist without endangering conservation of native animals.
For further information, call Camden Council’s Natural Resource Officer on 4654 7777 or download the Swooping Bird Information Sheet.