All Victorian native wildlife is protected by law, and it is illegal to harass or harm native birds and other wildlife without authorisation.
Swooping birds may be a frightening or even a dangerous experience. However, not all birds swoop to protect their eggs and young during breeding season, so don't be concerned simply because there are magpies or other common swooping birds in the area. Native birds can swoop in urban and rural areas, in parks and gardens, along bike tracks and in school yards, or anywhere that birds are nesting.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has tips for how to protect yourself from swooping birds:
1. Know your local swooping hotspots
Keep informed about parks, schoolyards and bike trails in your local area by reading your local newspapers or viewing Victoria’s ‘Magpie Map’ on www.wildlife.vic.gov.au/managing-wildlife/swooping-birds.
2. Avoid the area
The best way to protect yourself from a swooping bird is to avoid venturing into their territory.
3. Move quickly
If you must pass through the area – move calmly and quickly – do not run.
4. Cover your head
Wear a hat or carry a stick or umbrella above your head. Cyclists should wear a helmet, dismount and walk through the area.
5. Eyes at the back of your head
Birds may be less likely to swoop if they think you are watching them. Draw a pair of ‘eyes’ and attach to the back of hats and helmets.
6. Do not harass wildlife
Don’t interfere with or throw stones at birds. This gives them added reason to see humans as a threat and may increase swooping behaviour.
7. Do not destroy nests
This may prompt birds to rebuild their nests, prolonging the swooping behaviour.
8. Don’t feed swooping birds.
This may encourage swooping behaviour.
9. Travel in a group
If possible, try to travel in a group in areas where there are swooping birds.
10. Notify others
Put up warning signs for others who may not be aware that there are swooping birds in the area, or ask Council to do so.
You can also mark a bird-swooping area on Victoria’s Swooping Bird Map at www.wildlife.vic.gov.au/managing-wildlife/swooping-birds.
Victoria's Swooping Bird Map
Being aware of swooping areas can also help us to avoid venturing into the territories of these birds and take extra precautions while they are protecting their nests and young.
The Victorian Swooping Bird Map shows locations where people were swooped, mainly during the annual spring breeding season.