Swooping magpies are a hazard for pedestrians and cyclists in spring.By Elaine Cooney
Rochester residents should use caution when passing the Rochester Shire Hall, the Rochester Secondary College and the fifth hole at the Campaspe Golf Club due to swooping magpies.
Rochester Secondary College teacher Barbara McCarty said the magpie at the entrance of the school was a return visitor.
‘‘He tends to stay away when there is noise and activity outside,’’ she said.
She said he tended to swoop people walking alone under the nest.
Australian Veterinary Association’s Aviation Group president Kimberley Earl said some magpies could become highly aggressive during breeding season.
‘‘Tolerance is the best policy. We need to appreciate that some magpies will defend their territory from intruders because of a natural instinct to protect their offspring,’’ she said.
‘‘Fast moving objects such as people on bikes and anyone who moves towards their nests are perceived as threats and are likely to be swooped on.’’
Department of Environment and Primary Industries wildlife officer Michael Woods said there had been more than 370 reports of swooping birds across Victoria since the start of spring, with bike riders being the most common target.
‘‘Most of the reports of swooping birds come from areas where large numbers of people live, but also that are characterised by lots of big trees that birds like to nest in,’’ he said.
Tips to avoid being swooped include:
Campaspe Shire councillor Greg Toll said native birds were protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and it was an offence to harass or destroy the birds or their eggs.
‘‘That’s why we recommend people avoid the area during the nesting season,’’ he said.
Campaspe Shire and the DEPI was encouraging residents to highlight ‘‘swooping hotspots’’ in the local area on Victoria’s Magpie Map on the DEPI website.
Report the swooping location at the www.depi.vic.gov.au/swoop or send a tweet of the details to @DEPI—Vic and include #swoopvic in the message.
Residents can also download the ‘‘Swoop Off’’ kit, free from the DEPI website.
It includes 10 top tips to reduce the risk of a swooping and a set of printable eyes to attach to the back of helmets and hats that could dissuade territorial birds from swooping.
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