Bicycle Network: Skill Up
Swooping birds including magpies and plovers
Springtime is swooping bird season
Swooping and twittering
18 August 2010. O-oh, its Magpie season again. But help is at hand: the Department of Sustainability and Environment is bringing technology to the rescue, including using Twitter to plot the hotspots.
The Department has launched a new campaignâ€”The Swoop!â€”to improve safety this swooping season.
"This year, we are taking a more technology based approach to spread the message about avoiding bird swooping areas," a spokesman said.
"We have set up a 'magpie map' to show swooping hotspots in Victoria, and are encouraging communities to let DSE know via twitter, email or the call centre where these hot spots are so that DSE can plot them on the Magpie Map on the DSE website. Report the swooping location by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, telephoning 136 186 or sending a tweet of the details including #swoopvic in the message."
The DSE website also has an online toolkit 'The Swoop Off kit', including Top Tips, a 'Beware: Swooping Birds in the Area' poster and a set of printable 'eyes' to stick on the back of helmets or caps.
You can also get information explaining why birds swoop, the key birds that swoop, and ways to avoid or protect yourself, all leading to enhanced protection of native swooping birds and of course, people's safety.
Native birds, including Australian Magpies and plovers (Masked Lapwings), are highly protective of their eggs, nest and young and will often ‘swoop’ unsuspecting passers-by if they feel threatened. Only small percentage of birds attack during spring as a ‘warning’ to ward off intruders to their territory.
The best strategies are to avoiding the area completely and not to try and scare, attack or remove the bird. Native birds are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and it is an offence to harass or destroy native birds or their eggs.
Complete information is available at the Swoop website.
Also see our Ride On clips on magpie swooping experiments here.
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Springtime is swooping bird season
Many of our parks, reserves and bike tracks may become danger zones during spring as native birds swoop as a way of protecting their nests, eggs and young from unsuspecting passers-by. In most cases swooping is a form of intimidation. Only sometimes will the birds actually attack.
In order to combat this annual event, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) has swoop! resources available with essential information and practical approaches to avoid attack.
Understanding why native birds swoop and how to avoid their swooping may make breeding season less stressful for bike riders.
There is an information brochure, a warning sign for use in areas where birds swoop and a sticker with a pair of eyes for attaching to the back of bike helmets and hats.
For a free swoop! information brochure contact the DSE Customer Service Centre on phone 136 186 or visit www.dse.vic.gov.au/swoop. The stickers and signs can be purchased from Information Victoria, phone 1300 366 356.
Ways to avoid swooping that may work
- Avoid the swoop area. Try riding in a different direction.
- Cyclists should always wear a helmet. It is better to dismount and walk your bike past a swoop area.
- Put up warning signs for others who may not be aware that there are swooping birds in the area.
- Travel in a group. Most birds only swoop individuals.
- Be confident and face a swooping bird; usually they only attack people facing away from them. Magpies appear to be dissuaded from swooping when they are being watched, so try sticking 'eyes' on the back of your helmet.
- Do not panic and run. It will only encourage a swooping bird to continue its attack.