Management of aggressive native birds

OEH has developed a policy for the management of native birds that show aggression when protecting their territory and young.

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. While most birds only swoop and call loudly, a few birds may actually come into contact with people in an attempt to deter a threat. There are a number of things you can do to prevent possible injury in these circumstances.

OEH policy

OEH has developed a policy on the management of native birds that show aggression. This policy sets guidelines for OEH officers to respond to and manage encounters between people and aggressive birds.

The policy guides OEH staff when:

  • providing practical advice and support for members of the public, to help them avoid aggressive bird encounters and deal with these encounters when they occur
  • deciding when a bird is considered a risk to public safety, and understanding differing roles and responsibilities of staff on OEH-managed lands and on land managed by other people
  • developing and implementing education and awareness strategies, to build positive community attitudes to living with native birds
  • promoting partnerships with other organisations such as local councils, to improve management of these issues
  • maintaining an ongoing record of responses to wildlife management, including incidents with aggressive birds, as a basis for monitoring and evaluation.

Download the Policy on management of native birds that show aggression to people (PDF - 228KB).

More information

For more information about how to respond to swooping magpies and to download a copy of the sample magpies swooping brochure visit Australian magpie. The brochure can be tailored to local circumstances and printed and distributed by local councils and other groups.