During Spring in Australia, it’s not uncommon to encounter a swooping bird. Magpies are the usual suspects. Swooping season can last right through November. While it can be a bit of shock, there a few things that may help understand and manage swooping birds
Why do birds swoop?
Firstly, it’s important to understand why birds swoop. It’s not because they are nasty! Swooping happens during breeding season (typically Spring). A bird that swoops at a person is doing so to protect their family. They may have eggs or young in their nest and your presence is making them feel threatened. Birds will typically swoop within around 50 meters of their nest. Some birds are very clever and can even remember human faces! This means they may keep swooping at a particular person.
What to do when there are swooping birds
Remember that birds swoop during the breeding season, so it’s not going to last forever. If you can, take an alternate route. There are various apps and websites available where people can track and report swooping. This helps identify where the bird swooping zones are, so you can avoid them. If you can’t avoid a particular area, then walk quickly through the area. You can wear hat, sunglasses or carry an umbrella. Other tactics include wearing your sunglasses on the back of your head, or drawing a face onto an ice-cream bucket and wearing it on your head. The thinking is that birds are less likely to swoop if you are making eye contact. Be mindful of young children, walk with them and let them carry an umbrella or wear a helmet.
Swooping can be quite a nasty shock for someone simply walking along. However, understanding that the birds are the ones feeling threatened, goes a long way in explaining their behaviour. The best thing you can do is to be cautious and alert when walking through parks, or tree dense areas.