Swooping birds

The Australian magpie - a devoted parent

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.

Many birds are devoted parents and protect their chicks from what they see as potential predators (humans), while they are raising their young. Individual birds may swoop for six to eight weeks, usually stopping once their young have left the nest.

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 you should consider the following:

  • 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.

Swooping Bird Facts

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)
  • noisy friarbirds

These birds only want to raise their young successfully. Giving them a wide berth during swooping season will reduce the desire for the parent bird to swoop, and will also reduce the likelihood of injury.

What can Council do?

Once notified of a problem bird on public land, Council may conduct a risk-based swooping bird assessment. Depending on the outcome of the assessment, further mitigation measures such as signage maybe implemented.

If you are concerned about a swooping bird on council land you can report it or call (07) 3205 0555.

What can I do about a swooping bird on my property?

Council does not 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.

Residents who have swooping birds on private property can engage a licensed relocator for a fee.