The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is reminding Victorians that with spring in the air, so too are swooping birds.

Swooping birdsNative birds swoop humans (and their dogs) to defend their young for the 6-8 weeks between when they hatch and when they leave the nest. DELWP has received reports of birds such as magpies and masked lapwings swooping at locations around Melbourne. 

DELWP Senior Wildlife Management Officer, Rebecca Dixon, said: “Swooping occurs every year during breeding season and is largely a defensive manoeuvre. For some species, including magpies, this is carried out primarily by males; swooping birds account for less than 10 per cent of the population. 

“Being swooped by a territorial bird is no fun, but this is just normal bird behaviour. The best way to avoid being swooped is to avoid the area altogether, though this isn't always possible. 

“If you do end up in an area where there is a swooping bird, try to protect your head and eyes and move quickly through the area without running,” said Ms Dixon. 

Tips to avoid being swooped: 

  • Know your local swooping hotspots
  • Avoid the area 
  • Move quickly, but do not run 
  • Cover your head with a hat, helmet or umbrella and consider drawing a pair of ‘eyes’ on the back of your hat or helmet 
  • Do not harass or feed wildlife 

Some hotspots in Melbourne in previous years include public spaces beside the Yarra River from the city to north-east Warrandyte, public spaces beside the Maribyrnong River from Yarraville north-west to Taylors Lakes and in or around suburban parks with tall eucalypts. 

To report a swooping incident by any species of bird, mark its location on Victoria's swooping bird map, 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. 

As much as you can, you must stay at home. When you leave home, you must use a face covering, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. Visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au for more information.