Watch out for swooping birds
Swooping birds can be a frightening experience, but not all native birds swoop to protect their eggs and young during breeding season. This information is designed to develop understanding about why native birds swoop, so we can more easily share our rural and urban environments with birds.
Being aware of swooping areas can also help us to avoid venturing into their territory and take extra precautions while they are protecting their nests and young. However, don't be concerned simply because there are magpies present.
To easily identify swooping birds, take a look at our swooping birds page, or check out our Flickr gallery. You can also download our 'Swoop Off' Kit, which contains a printable set of ‘eyes', a warning sign and a top 10 tips fact sheet.
Victoria's Magpie Map
The 2012 Victorian Magpie Map shows locations where people were swooped during the spring breeding season.
The Victorian Magpie Map is a post-moderated community tool for sharing swooping locations. DEPI does not take responsibility for the validity of the data.
Like most animals, magpies and other swooping birds instinctively protect their territory, particularly during breeding time. They are protecting their nests, eggs or young from potential intruders. Most birds will swoop within 30-50 metres of their nest. Their territory may include your backyard, the park across the road or the local schoolyard. If they perceive you to be a potential threat, they may swoop. The likelihood of an attack is increased if they are teased or feel threatened in any way. For tips on how to protect yourself and avoid bird swooping, take a look at our Dealing with swooping birds page.
Why they swoop
Birds use scare tactics
- Swooping is the most common defence behaviour. The birds aim to threaten or bluff and the intention is only to ward off intruders.
- Beak clacking is part of their defence strategy.
- In a strike attack, a magpie usually swoops, hovers momentarily and then strikes. The fluttering of wings as the bird hovers can be a warning to duck your head to avoid the attack.
RisksSwooping birds can cause injuries. They usually attack with their beaks and aim for the scalp, face or eyes. If bike riders are swooped they could lose their balance, fall off, or ride into the path of cars. A bird swooping can be a frightening experience for children. Swooping birds can also spook horses.
RememberMost birds swoop only during the nesting and rearing period. They are only trying to protect their territory, nests, eggs and young. Most swooping behaviour is a form of bluffing. Birds rarely make contact when swooping.
Afghan - Dari