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Threatening animals

Swooping birds

A few birds (including the Australian Magpie, Magpie-lark and Masked Lapwing) are know to become aggressive and swoop pedestrians and cyclists on campus.

Australian Magpie

Close up picture of a magpie

For most of the year Australian Magpies are not aggressive, but for four to six weeks during nesting they will often defend their territory vigorously. The male magpie may swoop on anyone who gets too near the nest. Usual warnings include beating their wings, clacking their beaks and occasionally pecking. The magpie will swoop within a “defence zone” – the area around the nest tree. This is about 100 metres in radius.

There have been previous spring season reports of magpies swooping at Wollongong Campus near the Eastern entrance on the ring road in the vicinity of Kids Uni childcare and building 39. Pedestrians and cyclists are advised to avoid nesting areas by taking alternative routes. Motorists should also take extra care when driving near nesting area as cyclists and pedestrians may react erratically if they are being swooped.

Image: Australian Magpie. Photograph courtesy of A Wardle.

 

Magpie-lark (Peewee)

Magpie-lark (Peewee)

For most of the year Magpie-larks (or Peewees) are not aggressive but during breeding season they will swoop and defend areas around nests, food sources and areas containing nest making materials.  Food sources can include areas around cafes and food court areas where food is left on tables and fallen crumbs and food scraps are readily available. 

Image: Magpie-lark (Peewee). Photograph courtesy of A Wardle.

Masked Lapwing (Spur-winged Plover)

Masked Lapwings are ground dwelling birds that nest on the ground in lawn areas. During nesting and while chicks are young the Masked Lapwing will defend themselves from what they see as an attack. If you get to close they will make a loud 'kekekekek' call and swoop if they continue to feel threatened.

Spurwinged plover

Image: Masked Lapwing (Spur-winged Plover) adult. Photograph courtesy of A Wardle.

 

eggs on a spurwing plover nest

Image: Masked Lapwing (Spur-winged Plover) nest. Photograph courtesy of A Wardle.

Spurwinged plover chick

Image: Masked Lapwing (Spur-winged Plover) chick. Photograph courtesy of A Wardle. 

What should you do about swooping birds?

  • Please report any incident of aggressive birds to UOW Security to obtain first aid assistance (if required) and enable UOW to warn others.
  • Take heed of any warning signs placed around campus about swooping birds and avoid the area by taking an alternative route if possible.
  • Motorists should also take extra care when driving near areas where there are warning signs as cyclists and pedestrians may react erratically if they are being swooped.
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