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How to stay safe this swooping season

We might just be weeks into spring, but the region’s swooping birds are already out in force.

Here in Ipswich, we’re most likely to encounter swooping magpies and plovers as they protect their eggs and young between July and November.

Ipswich City Council is urging residents to keep themselves safe and protect our wildlife.

“While many of us have seen or experienced a swooping bird attack, the reality is only nine per cent of magpies are aggressive towards people,” Environment and Sustainability Committee chairperson Councillor Russell Milligan said.

“By better understanding birds and how to behave around them we can protect ourselves and our native wildlife during the short swooping season.”

Magpies defend an area around their nests known as a ‘defence zone’ – for pedestrians, this is about 110 metres from the bird’s nest, and for cyclists it’s about 150 metres.

It’s best to keep clear of these areas, however that might not always be practical.

If you do need to enter a defence zone and are swooped, refrain from yelling or throwing anything as this will not only harm the birds, but could also provoke more vicious attacks in the future.

Here’s a few practical tips to help keep you safe this swooping season:

  • Keep clear of the breeding area – magpies and plovers generally only swoop for four to six weeks of the year
  • Wear a hat
  • If you are riding your bike near a breeding area, dismount and walk, as this can help stop the swooping behaviours
  • Avoid the defence zones by taking a different route while the bird is displaying aggressive behaviours
  • Hold a stick or umbrella up in the air as you walk to help deter the birds
  • Stick eye spots or stickers on the back of your bike helmet
  • Maintain eye contact with the aggressive bird if you have to enter the defence zone
  • Always leave young birds alone. They are commonly found at the base of a tree and are still learning to fly, trialling their skills with their parents close by
  • Help educate the rest of your family, neighbourhood, school, staff and friends.

Council will continue to work with the community to manage the risks from aggressive native birds on council-owned land.

To report a swooping bird call council on 3810 6666 or email council@ipswich.qld.gov.au

Council’s response will take into account factors such as location and the bird’s behaviour and may include techniques such as signage around the defence zone.

Magpies and plovers are protected under Queensland legislation and relocating birds is a measure of last resort.

For concerns regarding swooping birds on private property, call the Queensland Department of Environment and Science on 13 QGOV (13 74 68) for advice.

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