Swooping season begins

A magpie flying in to swoop Voice photographer Louisa Jones.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is reminding Victorians that with spring in the air, so too are swooping birds.

Native birds swoop humans (and their dogs) to defend their young for the six to eight weeks between when they hatch and when they leave the nest.

DELWP has received reports of birds such as magpies and masked lapwings swooping at locations around the Bellarine Peninsula.

Hotspots in previous years included urban and rural areas, in parks and gardens, along bike and walking tracks and in school yards or near shopping centres.

Swooping occurs every year during breeding season and is largely a defensive manoeuvre.

For some species, including magpies, this is carried out primarily by males; swooping birds account for less than 10 per cent of the population.

Voice ‘Nature Watch’ columnist Jennifer Carr said she had been attacked by a magpie.

“Even though I love Australian magpies, I have been attacked by a magpie while riding my bike in Barwon Heads, and its beak penetrated my scalp even though I had a helmet on, and it hurt,” she said.

“My friend Kerrie was badly injured a few years ago when she lost control of her bike after being swooped.

“Once the young birds have fledged, the swooping usually stops. There are many hints and suggestions for people to follow to learn to cope with the ‘swooping season’ but the best resource I have found is a website called ‘Magpie Alert’ which can be found at magpiealert.com.”