Living With Wildlife

​​Swooping birds

When some species of native birds have eggs or young in the nest, they can become protective and may swoop people entering their nesting territory. The breeding season for most swooping birds is July to November, peaking between August to October. Native species most commonly known to swoop includes magpies, plovers, crows and butcherbirds. It is a serious offence to harm or interfere with native Australian birds, as they are protected under Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Magpies

What do magpies look like?
The Australian magpie is a medium-sized black and white bird, about 40cm long. The adult male has a white nape and rump, while females are grey in these areas and are smaller in size. The bill is grey-white and shorter in female birds. Juvenile magpies have flecked greyish dark markings and dark bills. Their lifespan is unknown, but some have lived up to 30 years.

​Where do they live?
Magpies adapt well to open, cleared environments and thrive in locations that have a combination of large tracts of lawn for foraging, scattered trees for nesting and protection, and water. They are very territorial birds, but are often found in groups of up to 20 in rural areas outside the breeding season.

​Magpie attacks
Magpies are well known for attacks on humans during the breeding season, between July and December, and peaks in August to October. Some male magpies become a nuisance to passersby and sometimes results in persons being struck by the bird, with some attacks of a serious nature. Most magpies will accept the presence of people within their territories. Only a small percentage of male magpies act aggressively in the defence of their nest. This behaviour usually occurs within 100 metres of the tree containing the nest and only occurs when chicks are present, usually lasting only 6 - 8 weeks. Research suggests that most aggressive magpies have previously had negative interaction with humans, where people have thrown stones or sticks at them, their chicks or nests.

​Magpies on private property
In this regard, landholders have a duty of care to protect the public from hazards on their land. If the hazard is in the form of an aggressive magpie, the landholder can choose to engage a licensed private bird relocator. A contact list for your local area can be obtained by phoning the DEHP hotline on 1300 130 372 or by referring to your local Yellow Pages for such services. Licensed private bird relocators operate as a commercial service and usually charge a fee. Where an aggressive magpie is required to be relocated, the bird needs to be captured and released at least 50km away to prevent the animal from returning to its original territory. When a male is removed, a new male typically moves in within a short period of time to protect the chicks. Therefore, relocation of an aggressive male magpie may only solve the immediate problem.

​Reduce the chances of attack
There are a few techniques that can be used to avoid or minimise the chance of a magpie attack, including:

  • If possible, avoid areas where magpies are breeding and nesting for the duration of the breeding season. Magpies swoop to scare the intruder away from the nest, not to cause injury. Leave the area as quickly as possible and the bird should stop swooping;
  • Remove unnecessary sources of water from the backyard;
  • If you must enter the area, keep the bird under constant observation as it is less likely to swoop when it is being watched. Also, wear a hat or helmet or carry an umbrella;
  • Do not feed magpies. Ensure no scraps of food or rubbish are left lying around;
  • If you are swooped upon, do not crouch in fear, or stop. Move on quickly but don't run. Most importantly, never deliberately provoke a magpie as this usually results in greater defensive behaviour;
  • Expect an elevated level of swooping activity during the breeding season, between July and December (peaking August to October). Swooping lasts about 6 - 8 weeks, while the chicks are in the nest;
  • Cyclists should dismount their bikes and walk away. It is believed the birds respond mainly to movement;
  • Never harass or provoke magpies as this may lead to a worse attack next time;
  • Do not try and kill or cause injury to the magpies;
  • Do not remove nests or eggs;
  • Do not touch young birds on the ground; and
  • Do not disturb the birds when there are fledglings in the nest.


Snake
s

Snakes play an important role in natural environments, helping to regulate populations of prey animals and maintain healthy ecosystems. All snakes are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and cannot be killed or taken from the wild, unless by a licensed snake catcher. 

Land clearing and urban development has led to an increase in snake encounters. You can minimise the likelihood of encounters by making your home and backyard an unsuitable snake environment by keeping your yard free of timber and debris, lawn at a low height and your windows and doors screened. 

When outdoors, protect yourself from snakes by wearing covered shoes and long pants, stick to formed paths and carry a snake-bite kit. When left alone, snakes pose very little danger to people; most snake bites are received by people who try to capture or kill a snake.

More information can be found on the Department of Environment and Science or by phoning 1300 130 372.

Contact details for a local organisation that provides this service is listed below:
BooBook Ecotours 
15 Quintin Street, Roma, QLD 4455
07 4622 2646
www.boobook.biz


Possums

In their natural environment, possums usually live in tree hollows but with the loss of native bushland many of these natural homes have been destroyed. Being highly territorial, possums do not relocate easily and so they sometimes seek safe shelter in your roof. Under Qld legislation a possum can be trapped if the person has a damage mitigation permit to remove and relocate the possum, however a trapped possum must only be moved a maximum of 25m.

Please note:  Council does not issue cat traps for the purpose of trapping possums.  Possums are a protected native animal and a permit is required for trapping.

For more information about living with possums, please contact the Department of Environment and Science on 1300 130 372.

Contact details for a local organisation that provides this service is listed below:
BooBook Ecotours
15 Quintin Street, Roma, QLD 4455
07 4622 2646
www.boobook.biz


Flying-Foxes

Flying-foxes are winged mammals that feed on the nectar, pollen and fruit from a variety of native and introduced plants. As such, they play an important role in flower pollination and long-distance seed dispersal. These social animals roost in camps that are important resting places, along with mating and the rearing of young.

Habitat loss and the resulting lack of food and shelter has led flying-foxes to roost and forage in urban areas. Human-Flying-fox conflict may arise because of issues such as noise, odour and droppings.

Flying-foxes are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, however local governments have the authority to undertake roost management within defined areas. There are a number of factors to consider before taking management action, including the likelihood of the roost relocating to a site of greater conflict.


Noisy Crows

The Crow is a native Australian bird that plays an important role in natural pest control, preying on insects and mice around crops, woodlands and suburban gardens. Crows also help to remove roadkill and disperse native seeds.

The availability of food scraps in residential areas can sometimes encourage crows to become dependent on artificial food sources, which may increase their numbers unnaturally and create a nuisance.

Take the following measures to ensure noisy crows don't become an issue in your area:

  • Ensure garbage bin lids are kept closed and not overflowing with rubbish
  • Do not feed crows or leave scraps of food or rubbish lying around
  • Remove pet food from backyards
  • Be understanding of increased noise during the breeding season, between August and February.

Remember crows are protected under state legislation and it is illegal to harm or kill crows or interfere with their nests or eggs.​

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