What can I do about aggressive birds swooping?

Birds that swoop include plovers, butcher birds and kookaburras but magpies usually cause the most concern.

If you feel the bird is dangerous, contact the ranger at your nearest national park office.

Swooping magpies

Magpies are the most notorious swoopers. During spring, a magpie will sometimes swoop on a person, clacking its beak. While alarming, it is usually just a warning, an attempt defend its family. This only happens during the nesting season, which lasts a few weeks. So if possible, use an alternate route for a while. A magpie may persistently swoop on a particular person yet ignore others.

If you encounter a swooping magpie:

  • do not stop - walk away quickly
  • eye contact will make the magpie less likely to swoop
  • wear sunglasses on the back of your head
  • wear a hat with a pair of eyes drawn on the back
  • wear a bicycle or skateboard helmet, or even an ice cream container or cardboard box
  • carry an open umbrella or stick above your head (but do not wave it).

More information about agressive birds

Management of native birds that show aggression to people: NPWS Policy

Magpies swooping brochure (PDF 36KB)