Even though they swoop at this time of the year, Magpies are still a protected species.

IT’S officially the start of ‘Magpie Swooping Season’ if the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is putting out a statement reminding Victorians “that with spring in the air, so too are swooping birds”.

And it’s not just ‘man’, it’s also woman and beast that needs to look out!

“Native birds swoop humans and their dogs to defend their young for the 6-8 weeks between when they hatch and when they leave the nest.”

DELWP has received reports of birds such as magpies and masked lapwings swooping at locations around Gippsland.

DELWP Senior Wildlife Management Officer, Lachlan Clarke, said: “Swooping occurs every year during breeding season and is largely a defensive manoeuvre. For some species, including magpies, this is carried out primarily by males; swooping birds account for less than 10 per cent of the population.”

“Being swooped by a territorial bird is no fun, but this is just normal bird behaviour. The best way to avoid being swooped is to avoid the area all together, though this isn’t always possible.

“If you do end up in an area where there is a swooping bird, try to protect your head and eyes and move quickly through the area without running,” said Mr Clarke.

Tips to avoid being swooped:

* Know your local swooping hotspots

* Avoid the area

* Move quickly, but do not run

* Cover your head with a hat, helmet or umbrella and consider drawing a pair of ‘eyes’ on the back of your hat or helmet

* Do not harass or feed wildlife

To report a swooping incident by any species of bird, mark its location on Victoria’s swooping bird map, visit delwp.vic.gov.au/environment-and-wildlife/wildlife/swooping-birds

Please note: Magpies and other native birds are protected in Victoria under the Wildlife Act 1975. Under the Act, it is an offence to kill, take, control or harm wildlife in Victoria. Penalties apply to those found in breach.

As much as you can, you must stay at home. When you leave home, you must use a face covering, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. Visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au for more information.