Common swooping birds

Australian Magpie


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.

Picture: James Calder


magpie lark

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.

Picture: Lindy Lumsden

Laughing Kookaburra


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.

Picture: Ian McCann

Red Wattlebird

Red wattle bird

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.

Their breeding season is 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.

Picture: Ian McCann

Grey Butcher bird

Grey butcher bird

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.

Picture: Ian Morrison

Masked Lapwing


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, with yellow spurs on their wings.

Masked Lapwings have a strident and rapid 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.

Their breeding season is from July to November.  

Picture: Paul Gullan, Viridans Biological Databases

Page last updated: 09/10/23