Swooping birds

Some native birds swoop as a defensive behaviour to protect their young. Swooping is most common in spring, but can start in late winter and extend into late summer.

Individual birds may swoop for six to eight weeks, usually stopping once their young have left the nest.

Australian magpies are well known for swooping, however it is estimated that only 9% of magpies swoop. Other birds that may swoop include plovers (masked lapwings), butcherbirds, crows, noisy miners, peewees (magpie larks) and noisy friarbirds.

Native birds are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and its is illegal to harm them or interfere with their nests and eggs.

If there is a swooping bird in your area:

  • take an alternate route - the best way to avoid being swooped is to avoid the bird’s territory
  • wear a hat and sunglasses or carry an umbrella to protect your face and eyes
  • dismount from your bicycle - data from magpiealert.com shows that nearly two-thirds of swoops are on cyclists
  • don’t wave your arms, yell or throw objects at the bird - this will likely make the bird more aggressive
  • remain calm and walk quickly through the area, but don’t run - injuries often occur when people panic and run from a swooping bird.

If you are concerned about a swooping bird on council land you can report it.

Council cannot manage birds on private property or state controlled land.

Refer concerns about native birds on private property or state controlled land to the State Government's Department of Environment and Science, phone 1300 130 372.