Management of native birds that show aggression to people

National Parks and Wildlife Service policy

Our policy on the management of native birds that show aggression sets guidelines for staff to respond to and manage encounters between people and aggressive birds.

1 August 2003
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Publication, Policies and guidelines, Policy
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  • Pages 48
  • Name aggressive-native-birds-management-policy.pdf


A number of Australian native bird species are territorial. Some species, such as magpies, butcherbirds and masked lapwings (plovers), establish and protect a territory during the breeding season. They may act aggressively to deter other birds or animals, domestic pets and even people, because they see them as a threat to their nests and chicks.

These seasonal behaviours, often during spring, can be intimidating. Although most birds only swoop and call loudly, a few birds may come into contact with people in an attempt to deter a threat. There are a number of things people can do to prevent possible injury in these circumstances.

Policy summary

This policy guides staff to:

  • provide practical advice and support for members of the public, to help them avoid aggressive bird encounters and deal with these encounters when they occur
  • determine when a bird is considered a risk to public safety, and understand differing roles and responsibilities of staff on Department of Planning, Industry and Environment-managed lands and on land managed by other people
  • develop and implement education and awareness strategies to build positive community attitudes to living with native birds
  • promote partnerships with other organisations such as local councils, which also help with these matters, and improve management of these issues
  • maintain an ongoing record of responses to wildlife management, including incidents with aggressive birds, as a basis for monitoring and evaluation.

Photo: Australian magpie pair (Cracticus tibicen) / John Turbill/OEH