Pesky plovers – dealing with swooping birds
Dealing with swooping birds is a topic that arises very frequently in newspapers, on television and on birding forums. During the spring here in Australia, our main bird breeding season, there are numerous complaints from people about aggressive birds. Most of these relate to Australian Magpies. The male aggressively defends the nest. Sometimes contact is made with the unfortunate person and blood is drawn. My own sister-in-law had a terrifying experience like this as a child.
A question from a worried reader:
I recently had a request for help from a reader concerning her children being attacked by plovers (Masked Lapwings). Here is what she said:
My 4 children (5, 7, 9 and 11) were attacked this morning by a group of plovers (a few pairs)they all have young at the moment. They were on their way to the bus stop and the plovers separated the children and were swooping and dive bombing them. They arrived back home shrieking and crying they were so unsettled by the experience. Having come on the internet to see what to do, I have read that they usually do not attack groups. 2 of my children lay on the ground to show they were not hostile. We do not have an alternate route to take. Any ideas on what we can do?
The experience must have been truly terrifying to the children. I have recently been bombed by a plover while walking near my home. This pair didn’t have young nearby but may have had a nest somewhere. It certainly unnerved me – and they only came to within about 3 metres.
Swooping plovers (lapwings) are a common problem throughout Australia. Rarely do they cause harm by actual contact but this has been known to happen. The spur on the wing has been known to inflict scratches. As your children discovered the unsettling nature of such an attack is just as traumatic as actual contact causing harm.
They have been known to attack in small groups but more commonly just the one pair attacks. The behaviour should stop after the breeding season is over.
I do not know of any fool proof system of solving your dilemma. Perhaps the children could wear cycling helmets to minimise any potential damage if struck. (This is an expensive solution if they do not have helmets.)
A cheaper alternative might be for the children to each carry a 50cm stick with a flag tied to the top – say a piece of cloth. Hold the stick above the head as the attack occurs. (This method works with magpies – I haven’t tested it with plovers).
Either solution does not take away the problem of the frightening noise made by the birds during an attack. The children may still be very unnerved even with some form of protection.
I am sorry that I do not know a better solution.
Over to my readers: Perhaps my readers may be able to suggest a better solution. Leave your ideas in the comments below. COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED.
- Do blackbirds swoop – dealing with aggressive bird behaviour
- Magpies behaving badly
UPDATE: Readers of the Birding-Aus newsgroup have contributed many ideas and comments on this problem. Read their suggestions in the comments section below.
UPDATE: Due to some comments suggesting illegal action on this article, comments are now closed. Sadly some people cannot seem to understand our laws relating to native birds.
Unfortunately I think there is very little that can be done, other than protection as Trevor mentioned.
Can I also suggest you try alternate routes to the bus stop, or consider dropping the children off until breeding season is over? It may be inconvenient, but is less disturbing to both children and birds!
Thanks for your comments Meryl. After writing this post I thought of your suggestion too – the whole family sitting in the car waiting for the bus may be a solution but could be very inconvenient for the parents.
Can’t offer any more than your suggestion of a stick with a flag to wave over their heads, should work just as well with lapwings as it does with maggies.
Thanks for your comments Duncan. I think you are probably right.
Greg answered my query on Birding-Aus:
I have never heard of plovers/lapwings actually ever hitting anyone. For all the noise they make they are unlikely to hurt the children. Just do nothing and ignore them would be my advise, just respect that they are trying to protect their young.
I have to disagree Greg – I have heard of people being hit, though it has not been my experience.
Telling a young child of five to ignore them will not work as they are terrified by the noise and the whole prospect of possibly being hit, however remote that might be.
John wrote this on Birding-Aus:
They do certainly sometimes hit some people – I never have been, but I have friends who have. And besides, it’s easy to tell children not to panic, and to ignore them, but that’s generally easier said than done for children!
Good points John.
Jill wrote this on Birding-Aus:
I don’t really know much about this, but my experience is that when the lapwings behave like this, it is because they have young chicks running around. If the people can look around and try to locate visually where the chicks are, they can do a wide berth around them in the first place. I have found as soon as you are out of ‘range’ of the free ranging chicks, they stop. If there is a dog with the people, that seems to be worse and it is always good to have the dog on a leash so it doesn’t run around near the chicks.
I don’t know whether it is true also for when they are sitting on eggs, but it may be – it is a case of checking out what they are doing before kind of entering into their ‘territory’ so to speak.
They are really scary, i have to say, whether they plan to make contact or not, it is frightening to have that noise and wingbeats so close overhead. That’s my thoughts, hope it is helpful.
You are right Jill, the noise and attacks can be terrifying, especially to child and those of a nervous disposition.
Lapwings usually don’t hit people, if they do it’s by accident. After all, would you deliberately run into something that much larger than you? I’ve always found that two things help with Lapwings. The first is to always face them. They seem highly reluctant to dive if they can see your face. The second is to skirt the nest area as much as possible. If the nest is on one side of the street, cross on the other. If they’re crossing a field to get to the road, go along the outside of the field. Lying down is probably the worst thing you could do – the Lapwing is trying to get rid of you, if you lie down it probably things you’re trying to hide so you can get closer to the nest.
So my recommendation boils down to them trying to stay as far away from the nest as possible, move quickly through the area, and face the Lapwing when it is trying to make a dive at you.
Another thing you can tell the lady is why they do it (if she doesn’t already know). Cats, dogs and people are responsible for a lot of egg crushing or chick deaths and the birds are just trying to protect their babies. I had a pair in my local park in Brisbane that hadn’t successfully bred in the 5 years I monitored them. They had eggs at least twice every year. On at least one occasion I caught local kids picking up the eggs and running away laughing. They didn’t laugh so much when I told them they probably just killed two living creatures.
My answer to Chris is that his argument doesn’t hold up with regard to Magpies and some other species that are very willing to attack something bigger than themselves. Ever seen a Willie Wagtail attacking a Wedge Tailed Eagle? That’s just one example of many I could give.
I have to agree that it is probably an accident if they do hit someone. The whole thing is still terrifying to children and nervous adults.
Rosemary commented on Birding-Aus:
When dealing with a similar problem with Arctic Terns (who definitely can draw blood!) the solution is usually to hold a stick so that it protrudes vertically above your head so that the birds cannot actually hit your head.
I wondered whether this would work for lapwings? Or maybe try an umbrella??
An umbrella is definitely worth a try – very sun safe too.
Michael wrote on Birding – Aus:
Or maybe try an umbrella??
In “Wild Neighbours: the humane approach to living with wildlife”, Ian Temby does suggest umbrellas, adding that the transparent variety could be handy!
But in the case that Trevor raised, how about asking the bus company to move the stop, at least during the lapwing breeding season?
Shirley contributed this amusing incident on Birding-Aus:
The perversity of Lapwings to nest in very public areas is amazing. There was a pair that regularly nested on the golf course in Armidale (not sure if they are still doing so). And they swooped, but seemed to target one golfer in particular who would end up in an absolute fury, flinging clubs at the birds. Of course, onlookers thought this quite funny, because the golfer in question although on a very low handicap, was quite often very grumpy, to say the least.
There is a pair in Hobart regularly nests in the middle of a suburban roundabout. Virtually the first trip the chicks have to make each year is to cross the road to a park nearby.
I once saw a pair escorting two balls of fluff on a triangle of grass at the intersection of North Terrace, West Terrace and Port Road in Adelaide, possibly the busiest intersection in the whole CBD with six lanes of traffic on each road. It was a very busy Saturday afternoon and we were almost gridlocked with cars coming from the Entertainment Centre nearby.
Very brave birds.
We used to find (in northern NSW) that a resident pair would attack when they were sitting on eggs, but as soon as the eggs hatched, and there were mobile chicks, the attacks stopped. Have not really followed up these observations in other places to see if it holds true elsewhere.
I’m always amazed at the locations that plovers choose. Maybe the exposure works in their favour? They get an extended family of big, strange-looking birds to keep away the predators.
I once read about a pair of plovers that nested successfully between the rails of the Sydney to Melbourne railway line. That’s the ultimate in protective cover.
My anser is when bening Bobmed by the plovers, you must run away as fast as you can, and dive to the ground when they come near. You should try hiding behind a tree or something that will protect you. Don’t throw rocks trust me it dosn’t work i tried it before. Just don’t get in their way. Thank you
I find this very interesting. My son rides his bike to school & a couple of Plovers are swooping him. He can not ride his bike, carry his back pack & try the umbrella trick. He school has not taken kindly to the suggestion that they move the bike racks. My son is 9. As soon as the birds start he drops his bike & runs screaming.
Hi, we have a very aggessive pair of plovers on our lawn. They arrived a couple of days ago and are completely terrorising my family. They have turned out dogs into nervous wrecks and it is only possible to get to the cars waving a broom. These birds are relentless. Does anyone have a sensible solution, we will not be moving house to get away from this, nor will we be waving brooms for the next few months either. Any suggesions as to where councils stand on the removal of this menace. Plus, i have witnessed myself them swooping on people and to within a couple of inches too.
Thanks for your comments Dylan, Jenine and Angela.
It sounds like these birds are causing you all a great deal of anxiety and inconvenience.
In answer to your questions about councils, Angela, I suggest contacting your local council for advice. It seems each council has their own rules and regulations so it is best getting local input on these matters.
A lady that I have spoken to recently said that children at their school aree pulling Zip Cords through their helmuts & this is stopping the birds getting to close. They are using a few cords each. Only work if you are wearing the helmut thourh.
I am absolutely terrified of these swooping birds. When i was younger i fell of my push bike face first into the road after a magpie hit me in the side of the face. i ended up in hospital with teeth hanging out and cuts all over my face. I have recently moved to darwin and the plover birds are very agressive i have noticed though on some worksites that if i wear a high vis vest they have left me alone but if i dont have one on they are after me. I will also keep an umberella on me when walking to work and see how it goes. I think also that if you are scared of them they know (6th Sense). So putting on a tough face toward them is probably not a bad idea. If anyone finds out an amazing way to stop them swooping i would love to hear from them.
Thanks for visiting Poppy.
You have very good reason to be afraid of swooping birds. Experiences in childhood that are terrifying can leave some horrible scars – both physically and mentally. I took many decades to overcome my fear of large dogs after being attacked by a neighbour’s Alsatian when I was about ten.
It sounds like you are determined to beat you fears by trying many different strategies – all the best with that.
Well, every day i walk so far to get to my bus stop to go to school and the other day i found out what a plover looks like. To my dismay there are plenty near where I live and I have been told to have a 1m+ long stick or branch to cary around. When they swoop or fly above you, just wave to stick around vertically. Beware not to hit them because they are easily agrivated.
[…] Pesky plovers – dealing with swooping birds […]
I’ve been attacked by plovers, riding a motorbike on a farm. They are pretty scary. They will defend both their nest and their chicks.
We have a pair of plovers on our golf course, and I saw yesterday that they have a chick (delightful little ball of fluff). They are used to humans, so they don’t swoop, but do the “akakakak” call and the broken wing thing.
Sure-fire remedy – hold a stick (or golf club) above your head. Plovers are not good fliers and won’t go near you if there is an obstruction (although they will still try to scare you). This also works even for magpies who are the Spitfires of the bird world.
For kids: explain that the birds are just trying to defend their young, and how you can defeat them with a magic stick. Make it a game.
Welcome to my blog James. Thank you for the timely advice, especially the advice for children. In many cases I suspect that the fear some children display merely mirrors and mimics the fear transmitted by their parents.
Have read the comments with much interest, we have a pair of plovers with eggs in the centre of our front yard (we have just bought the house) and our family is well aware they are only ‘defending’ their nest. Have lived previously in an area with plovers and there was never a problem.
Unfortunately the nest is close to our front door and we have to enter/exit as we attend our daily routine of school, work, etc under consistent swooping. As much as we love wildlife this is becoming a ‘headache’, the local Council say the plovers native birdlife therefore will not relocate the plovers.
Do the plovers return to their nest each time to lay the eggs? twice a year? are the juveniles protected with swooping for how long?
Does our family need to evolve into unmbrella heads to survive? Help !! I am somewhat concerned for our young kids and their friends as they are intimidated by these birds.
How are we going to mow the lawn, garden, and the kids to play?
There is Council Reserve in front and beside our property, a natural grass area which is only partly mowed, which the plovers visit but for some reason they live in our yard.
There is a product available; Multicrop Scat Bird & Animal Repellent, to deter from an area, by spraying. I would like to give it a try, once the nest is abandoned; hopefully it will work if I can determine a time frame between nestings. That’s if I’m still sane!!
Look forward to receiving some responses to the above. Thanks, from ‘under seige’.
Plovers seem to return to the same place year after year to nest and begin swooping from the time the hen bird begins to nest. We have had a pair nesting our front yard every year for the past ten years and suffer the swooping every year. It makes it difficult to work outside (horse paddocks and gardens still need to be done)and an umbrella is the best solution, although that must be replaced by a strong, brimmed hat when moving horses. Definitely don’t try to retaliate as it just makes them more aggressive.
Hi there Lee and Rhonda,
It must be so frustrating having to cope with the constant barrage of attacks from this species of bird. I am still at a loss to suggest anything that might work.
After 4 years of living in my house (two vacant blocks either side) I now have a pair of plovers sitting on eggs. For the past 4 weeks we have been swooped on in our back yard and deck area and I cannot come out through the laundry side of the house at all. They even swoop us in the street as we are walking down the road. I have great difficulty mowing my nature strip. Someone told me to use rubber snakes next year just before nesting time to discourage them from settling. Do your think this may work?
Hi there Debie, welcome to my blog about Australian birds.
Other writers have used the rubber snake solution with success in relation to discouraging Blackbirds. It is certainly worth a try.
Just reading your comments with interest. We have been in our home about 18 mths and 10 days ago, plovers nested between our shed and house. Unfortunately the first egg was laid the day before my sons 18th party. After talking to DSE and some volunteer wildlife people, it was decided to protect the nest with wire that had foil wrapped around it and then a lamp set up to keep the chill off the eggs. The birds were not swooping at that stage.The party went ahead.Everyone was interested in what was in the enclosure and it was a joke to say “we’re waiting for the eggs to hatch”as teenagers sat around peering in at the nest. The female was back on the nest by 7am.Two of the eggs were damaged by someone tripping over, at this stage we are unsure if they are viable or not.There are only 3 eggs altogether. We have found that the swooping happens more with strangers to our house or if people are going to the shed, which is percieved as a threat. Most times I am able to go about my business of hanging washing out or feeding the horses. I have found if they run away on the ground
I can talk to them and they don’t swoop, but if they fly into the air, they will swoop and be more agitated. Sometimes I pause and they settle on the ground again, remain at a distance, but don’t swoop. Certainly locating and skirting the nest helps. In conclusion I would add that it is me[not my children] who is most scared when they do swoop!
I’m a 14 yr old who has been swooped by plovers.These particualr lapwings are very aggressive and have swooped to well within 1m of me. I don’t think that they would intentionally hit me, however I am not game enough to test the theory.After being attacked by a pair about two months ago in my local park, one of the birds has since relocated to my next-door neighbour’s front yard with the other moving to the empty block on the other side of the road. As a result I am forced to walk in between the two of them.
There had been no problem walking this way for about a month until an incident last week where I walked no closer than usual to either bird. I walked approximately 5m from the bird on my side of the street and 10m from the bird on the other side of the street. The closer bird started its usual shreiking but I was startled to find that it was, in fact, the plover on the opposite side of the street who started dive-bombing me.
I am very short and I usually walk home with my brother who is much taller (almost 6 foot) however, on the day in question, I walked home alone. The bird which I walked closer to tends to spend more time sitting on a nest whereas the one which swooped me is typically more mobile. Is it possible that one plover sits on the eggs while the other guards it? Do these events have any connection? If anyone can give any sort of advice on how to deal with the plovers it would be much apprecaited.
Jimmy, I’ve observed the pair of Plovers on the vacant block next to my house, and they share sitting on the eggs, I have observed the change over and the unencumbered plover roams freely. The free roaming Plover has eyed and swooped me while mowing my nature strips and even on the vacant block on the other side of my house which is not visible to them protected where they are on the fenced vacant block. The one on the nest screeches and the other one comes to do the swooping I stand my ground because I have two very small puppies that play in the yard and I’m usually standing close by to protect them. They are fairly intimidating swooping to within what seems to be a metre and the other has actually left the nest to join in the swooping. I stare directly at them and it seems to be a game of chicken, they swerve at the very last minute.They have been sitting on the nest for over 4 weeks, the eggs must be ready to hatch, I’m dreading their antics once the eggs hatch.
interesting comments … we have a problem with plovers for several years nesting on our roof ( tin,flat roof) . As stated extremely aggresive when eggs laid – will swoop anything that irks them & the constant screeches day & night drive me nuts.I have been swooped even cleaning pool which is well around from house. We are currently trying a type of twine strung around roof & which vibrates with the wind. Noise is supposed to drive birds off. Touch wood this works!!!!!
This first chick hatched two days ago, the plovers are still sitting on the remaining 3 eggs but nothing has happened as yet. Now what I need to know is how long will it be before they move on and we can get back to normality. I cannot even step out my laundry door, they fly in and manouevre under the eaves, you can almost feel them brush you and they screech just when they are at your ears.
Thanks for the comments Rod. It will be interesting to see if your solution actually works. Keep us posted.
Sorry I can’t help you with your question Debie. It must be very frustrating for you.
I have Plovers constantly nesting in my back paddock, I have on several occasions moved the eggs and they go away , Somehow tho this time they managed to hatch and now I have 3 little ones running around with them. They have become more aggressive now and the area they swoop has become larger of course because the young are wandering. My daughter likes to ride her motorbike around the paddock and they dont seem fazed about the bike and continue to swoop her.
I was hoping for a solution to their terrifying antics as I would love to mow my lawn. But alas its just another animal to cause you harm and seemingly try to kill you in this wonderful country.
God I love Australia !! Lol
I live opposite a park in Thornbury, Melbourne where there are a number of plovers but only one pair appears to be aggressive(that I’ve noticed anyway). I have been attacked and seen others being attacked with the birds coming within a few centimeters of heads, and swooping two or three times in one attack. Just yesterday morning while extremely hungover I forgot about them and was caught off guard and turned into a disorientated raving nutter, much to the amusement of peeple parked nearby.
How about sticking some eyes on the back of a hat or helmet. Last year while riding my bike in Bendigo I was swooped by a magpie. I went and bought some googly/moving eyes and stuck them to my helmet….i wasn’t swooped again, but that does not necessarily mean it worked.
I believe that it is unusual for plovers to nest above the ground, but I have a pair nesting on our flat roof above the front door. Can anyone say how long before the young are hatched.
They constantly swoop me and come very close but haven’t made contact yet.
My wife waves her arms and yells, but this makes them more aggressive.
I find that if I keep out of line of site to the nest area they are less aggressive.
We have a plover sitting on 3 eggs very close to our front door. Can anyone tell me how long it takes for eggs to hatch. She has been there since 4 September. The lawn needs mowing and I am wondering how long we will have to wait. This is a new house and the plovers used to roam on this block before we built we now only have a small patch of lawn but she has picked this to lay her eggs. Across the road and is a very large park so she is not very smart.
Hi there Ally, Simon, Peter and Elaine – thanks for visiting. Sorry about the delay in answering – I’ve been very busy.
Masked Lapwings – also called plovers – incubate from the egg in around 28 – 30 days. The chicks may then take 6 – 7 weeks to fledge (fly).
The nesting on a roof is most unusual – I wonder how they think the chicks will be able to run off after hatching???
two plovers started to nest in the year 4 playground and in the car parks so my class was having fitness and the plovers started to dive near me and my class. And really most of the times my friends gets swooped by both plovers at the same time also my dad and my uncle got swooped by a few plovers . hey Trevor my freind caquila said that plovers cant really land propally so you pick up a stick . the thing i always see is people turning back and running away . My solution is to go to the very opposite side and to go as quickly as i can and RUN!!!!
if any solutions just comment
Plovers or the “screaming birds” as I call them are very very scary. I was walking through our property towards our dam and I was swooped several times, I had to run for cover under a tree and they still persisted. I grabbed a stick waved it around my head and ran back to our house. I looked back at out dam and notice a very young plover near the waters edge. So there is there reason, protection. I have lived here for 8 years and have seen plenty of plovers, and have never had this problem until now.
You are right Kelly – they are ‘screamers’ and can be very frightening. And you are also right in saying that they are only trying to protect the nest, eggs or young.
Every year a pair of plovers nest accross the street in the High School grounds
Every year there’s commotion and swooping when the kids go anywhere near the nest or chicks.
The birds are ok if no kids come near them but I have found over the years that the kids deliberately tease the birds and nests so consequently the screaming and swooping of these birds.
I have often told the kids to stay away and so has the teachers but you always get kids teasing the birds for fun
I have found some teachers are so ‘stupid’ as to stand over the nests. When this has happened I have had to speak to the teacher as he thought by standing over the nest it would protect his pupils. Also once you pick up the eggs the plovers don’t go back to that nest again. I saw the groundsman do that once when he wanted to mow and he lifted the eggs and tried to coax the birds back to the eggs which he had placed a distance away.They simply abandoned that cluch of eggs.
If people would recognize there are nests or chicks nearby when the plovers screech or swoop and take a wide birth around them next time they walk that way
Thanks for visiting Barbara – and for leaving your comments and telling of your experiences with this species. Similar comments could be made about Australian Magpies. The really aggressive individuals are often the victims of teasing by children or have been harassed by adults. Other pairs can be very docile. The pair nesting on our property, for example, have never swooped us and will even let us come near to the nest or the young without a problem. They go about their business of raising the young and we leave them alone.
We are having our first house built and have discovered 3 eggs sitting in the middle of the back yard. This would clearly explain why the plovers are so agressive, but with a toddler I would really prefer to just be rid of them permanently before we move in. Is there any way to get rid of them without harming them or the 3 unhatched chicks. I read a comment above that if you move the eggs they won’t come back to that nest, but 1) that would kill the 3 chicks and 2) would they simply pick a different place in our backyard next time they wanted to nest?
How long do plovers remain on the nest as i have a pair of nesting plovers in my backyard and am waiting to mow the lawn
We live in a semi rural area on small acreage.
The resident pair of plovers are absolute bullies, who have terrorised us & the neighbours for over 10 years.
After seeing them having a go at the neighbour’s 2 cattle dogs & hovering while it debated following the dogs underneath the highset house, I was concerned about my placid female Cocker’s safety.
So I made it a game for her.
When the plovers would carry on, I encouraged her to chase them.
Worked a treat!
The rotten bullies didn’t like the tables being turned on them.
Now that my Cocker is no longer with us, the plovers are back with a vengenance.
Hi there Vicki – thanks for sharing your experiences with us. It must be frustrating to say the least to have these aggressive birds take over, and I’m sorry that I cannot offer any solution to your problem.
Hi there Betty – sorry for the delay in answering your question. I can’t seem to find any reference in my bird books about how long the eggs of plovers (Lapwings) take to hatch. It would be my guess that it would be about three weeks at the most. The the chicks would be running around following the parents for another month at least – maybe more before they are independent.
The same pair of plovers have been nesting in my yard near the waterfront for the the last few years. This year we place a cover over the area where they return to nest and they nested next door instead. However since their 4 young have hatched the parents moved them down to the waterfront and into our yard again. QWe are unable to use the waterfront to go swimming as they are constantly swooping us, adults and children alike. It is very frustrating to have a waterfront which we are unable to use with safety. Any solutions please.
Welcome to my blog Norma.
It must be very frustrating to have this problem. I can only offer one piece of advice – patience. The chicks will grow up and make a life for themselves somewhere else in a few weeks. Then life should return to normal for you and your family – until the next breeding season.
Other readers may have other suggestions.
Just a word of caution to all of my readers though – remember that all native birds are protected by law, so be careful not to be tempted to harm them, as frustrating as it may be. Interfering with any nests is also unlawful.
I live on acreage and have had my first encounter with nesting plovers, had seen them in this part of the lawn without having any problems with them, then all of a sudden one day they started swooping, right next to my new vegie garden, even with a big stick they still swooped and they got very close, their wings sometimes brushed against me,the umbrella worked the best, they actually retreated so I was able to see the nest of 4 eggs. this went on for 5 weeks. on the 35th day they were very aggressive 2 diving at the one time I then realised the babies had finally arrived, the next day all had hatched and by that afternoon they had left,they went across another paddock across the road to a creek quite a walk for new babies.
it was all very stressful for all of us including the dogs sometimes they would chase them but that made them worse. as much as I love having birds around, I think next year when they are checking out the area, I’ll mow the lawn every day and try and encourage them elsewhere !
Welcome to my blog about birds, Joan. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
They can be very annoying birds – and terrifying if on the receiving end of one of their attacks. Well done for surviving the ordeal!
Mowing the lawn every day may be counter-productive actually. It has been found that airport managers leave the grass near runways unmown – leaving the grass to grow to about 30cm. This has proved to be successful in deterring the plovers from nesting as they need a clear view of approaching threats. I’m not sure if this is a viable alternative for you.
You can read the government report here:
i was walking accross the oval at my little brothers primary school and i heard the plover screach i looked every where and i found it soaring above me, i stuck to the fence line but they wouldnt swoop i found it a great help. i also was carring a stick with me i found it off a tree about one metre long with twigs out the side i waved it above my head and they didnt swoop when i next walked accross the middle of the oval.
im 15 and my little brother is 7 so he hides infront of me
Welcome to my blog about birds Jay.
Thanks for leaving your comments about swooping plovers. I have found that holding a stick above my head is very effective against swooping magpies and it is good to hear it also works with plovers.
Well done for being brave – and for protecting your little brother.
I have had the unpleasant experience of being attacked by plovers year after year in Spring.Whilst I have survived this most terrifying experience I must say that this year it has been my worse. My situation is I have horses, nine at the moment & every morning & night I spend at least 2hrs at at time feeding, rugging, cleaning stables & exercising the horses. Horses are my life & the paddock is my favourite place in the world, but now I am scared to go there, but i have no choice as the horses need to be cared for.
The plovers made a nest on the stable roof, & of course for the duration of time that mum sat on the nest I endured many close encounters. Being swooped on was a common occurence & very frightening. Some times it was if they had me in their sights from afar & would head straight for me & swoop down just missing my head. Their squaking cry was always an indication they were coming. Several times I would fall backwards as I would duck for cover, especially as I protected my head. Iwould carry a broom or sometimes a lunging whip. which is very long & has a crack on the end of it & I would swing it above mh head. This was ok but makes carrying buckets of feed, & hay very difficult, as I can only use one hand to carry stuff whilst the other hand is wheeling the whip/broom.
Sometimes I would fall over & end up with feed /lucerne hay all over me. Iwould have to get up & dust myself off & pickup the feed before preparing for the next attack.
This went on for what seemed like forever, UNTIL the babies hatched.The birds never stiooed squarking as they protected their chicks whilst following them around the paddock & doing crowd control. I must say they are extremely good parents. I have told them many a time I am not interested in you & your babies, I won’t hurt you or come near you. I just want to do my horses.
All has been good until Wednesday(yesterday) when I noticed only i chick & the mother bird sitting huddled in the grass, with father close by guarding the baby. I became concerned as the way they were acting you could tell they were distraught.
I finally saw the second chick being cradled by the mothers wing, it appears to be injured. Hence their behaviour. I rang WIRES & left a voice mail message but so far have heard nothing. This morning the injured baby appeared much better, however the behaviour of the parents were dreadful. They both attacked me at the same time as they had moved closer to the feed shed & area I walk through to get to the horses. I fell over whilst carrying a large bucket of water as I fought off the birds. Moments later I was on the ground again, this time I had fallen backwards & landed on a concrete.
Feeling most frightened by now I had to tie a chaff bag over my head & walk through the arena with a bag tied to a broom to fight off the attackers.
I only hope when I go to the paddock this arvo they have moved away.
Bring on Autumn…
as yiew jik
As much as I don’t like them I don’t want to see anything happen to them. I wish they understood I was not any threat to them.
Welcome to my blog Jenny. Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment.
It sounds like you have done all the right things in trying to live with these birds. Unfortunately they are not known for being cooperative and trying to live with you. You describe some frightening encounters with them and they’ve made life almost unbearable.
For what it is worth, next time they nest near where you have to work, try contacting the National Parks office nearest you and asking for a permit to move the eggs. Not sure if they do that but it’s worth a try.
Secondly, to prevent them nesting on the ground, try leaving the grass unmown during the nesting season. (That may be hard where the horses are grazing.) Airport authorities have found that they will not go near, nor nest in, areas with grass 20 – 30 cm high. The reason being is that they need to see predators approaching, so they will leave long grass alone. That’s why they love ovals, parks and beautifully manicured grassy areas. That doesn’t solve the problem of them nesting on the roof!!!
I am disturbed that the call to WIRES was ignored. I’d try again, and if there is no satisfaction, try contacting the head office and complaining. Yes – I know that they are a volunteer group, but helping any suffering animals has to be a priority. That’s what they are all about, and if your local group can’t deal with requests, they should train someone who can help.
Thanks for your comments. This morning the birds only attacked me a couple of times & I was prepared for them. They moved their 2 chicks further up the paddock away from me. Fortunately the injured chick is improving & hops around with a limp. Sadly this morning as I was leaving the paddock I noticed the birds were closer to the road. I then saw a car stop a man got up & picked up what appeared to be a dead bird off the road & put it on the side of the road. The birds went crazy, from a distance it looked like the healthier chick as it was bigger. When I drove up the road the parents were standing on either side of the road, obviously preparing to cross. One bird just stands on the road & motorists don’t think about going around them they expect them to fly away, sadly they don’t. Still no reply from Wires. It is probably too late now.
There are plenty of open paddocks nearby & one huge one has no horses or very little human activity, why can’t they move there, where they would be safe? I wish I could tell them. I felt really sad & sorry for them when one of the babies was run over.
Hi again Jenny. The magnitude of road kill of our wildlife in Australia would horrify people if accurate statistics were available. (I don’t know of any studies into this – someone must have done some research.)
I travel the south eastern freeway from Murray Bridge to Adelaide several times a week going to university. In recent weeks I have been astounded by the numbers of dead birds – mainly young magpies – on the roadside. I must do a count sometime.
We are building a house on acreage, we have been swooped all day – very very close too, by two plovers at the same time. They are nesting in the neighbours vacant block. As we did not know what to do we waved a big stick around and our hands, but after reading your blog it is no wonder they got more and more aggressive. What purpose do they serve in ecological society? After reading your blog it seems as though they do more harm than good.
Welcome to my blog Goose – thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
You pose the question as to the ecological purpose of the plovers. I’m afraid that you will not like the answer.
This species has considerably expanded its range and increased in numbers since humans altered the environment. By providing vast areas of suitable habitat like improved pastures, sports grounds, manicured lawns, airfields and other cleared areas this species has thrived, bringing it into contact and conflict with people. We are at fault – all the birds are doing is taking advantage of perfect conditions we provide them and protecting their young.
Without this species – and numerous others like them – our land would be over run in days by insects, beetles and other invertebrates. They play a very important role in a balanced environment. Humans have upset that balance by providing vast tracts of suitable habitat.
I sometimes ask the same question as to the purpose of mosquitoes, or cockroaches, or flies or any number of ‘pest’ species. Each has a role to play in the vast web of life, whether we like them or not.
Of course – I admit that these comments do not help to provide a solution to the psychological (and sometimes physical) damage caused by these birds.
Hi live next to a play ground and ive watched the plovers from there nesting to there chicks,my grand daughter goes to school so she stays close to our fence while walking in the park and there fine as long as your not near them or there chicks, dissapointing i actually caught 2 girls who chased the chicks got them and put in there jumpers the parents just flew around them but they did not attack them which i was surprised at,but i caught them and told them to put them back in the park and they let them go but they took 2 home 1 got away and after the parents called for them they left the 1 little chick came back but the parents were gone i prayed to god to bring them back for there little 1 it cried all night i didnt sleep i felt sorry for it but i couldnt stay out all night next morning it was gone,i heard a plover during the night and hoped they came and got it then 2 days later they were back with the little one so i know my prayers were answered,did you knoe the little ones sit on their backs when they fly i have watched them cause i wanted to know how they fly with babys now i know,but if you show them no threat they might fly over squarking but they dont attack unless your near there babys,also i like to thank the council how they mow around the nesting mother and they dont mind and there big mowers,but as i said the 2 girls who took the babys the parents did not attack so who really knows maybe some are grumpier than others,by the way the girls that stole the chicks was reported to police as i know where they live,all i can say through my experience is just keep a wide berth also dont stare at them while your walking thru as they might think your going to do something i told grand daughter take 1 look then keep walking straight ahead and dont stare she has been fine i hope this helps love studing plovers
I was amazed to read the hundreds of Plover stories on your site. And I thought I was alone with this annoying problem. We have lived on our property for 10 years now and have developed a harmonious relationship with the cohabiting wildlife. We have ducks, magpies finches and a multitude of rosellas and parrots. The magpies tease the dog and they, along with the rosellas sit right outside the back door and eat the dry dog food out of his bowl. This year the Plovers arrived and have well and truly upset our peaceful existence. Not only do they screech well into the night but they also swoop us everytime we go down to the yards to feed the horses. They don’t seem to bother the horses when they are in the paddock alone but as soon as one of us, or the dog, goes near the yards, we are dive bombed mercilessly. The dog seems to totally ignore it but it does upset me somewhat as they fly straight at you about head height. I carry a stick now but this is not always convenient when rugging horses or putting out feed. I haven’t gone looking for the nest and I am prepared to wait until the young hatch and then hopefully the swooping will stop. Has anyone had any success relocating the nest after the babies are hatched? After all, in this case, we were definitely here first and I am not able to relocate my horse yards.
Hi Chloe, from my experience the swooping will not stop until after the eggs have hatched and the chicks are older enough to fly could be another 6 weeks or more. For us the swooping started with more intensity when the young one had left the nest and was walking around close to the parents but still not flying. Both parents talk (screech)to each other when they feel danger in near. Then in a co-ordinated plan they launch their full on attack. Coming at you from different directions. The baby plover has now gone and harmony has returned. I am hoping they they only have the 1 batch of chicks each spring. How many Trevor?? do you know
I am hoping they hatch their baby soon. We are planning a recy tomorrow to find the nest. Their territory seems to get bigger every day so we are keen to know what stage the nesting/hatching process is at.
Hi Chloe and Kelly
I live accross from a school ground and each year the same pair of plovers nest BUT in different places in the school yard. This year they got so fed up with kids teasing them that they nested in the fenced off grounds of an Energex sub station which is right next door to the school yard.I have observed that every other year they do this if the previous year they have had trouble with kids interfering with them while they sit on the eggs.The only trouble with this is that she has to fly over the fence and call them through a tiny 2inch gap under the fence only hours after they are hatched.She then has to call them up through long grass to the school oval. The poor things struggle to get through but I guess she thinks this is better than kids teasing her each year.
I thought they only have one batch a year but have discovered that if they die in that year they nest again within 2 weeks. The pair I observe are onto their second batch(3 birds)- they only had 1 chick earlier and it died
Lasy year they had 2 batches but lost 2 lots of eggs through kids interfering. Out of the 2 batches of 4 chicks last year only 2 survived to fly
thats so sad.
Life is very tough for them living next to the school. Very clever of them to nest in the protected sub station area. So much more work/stress for the parents but its working for out them. Thanks for the info on their nesting habits. Our pair of plovers have settled down and not bothering us at all.. But whenever I walk through the paddock towards our dam I still keep a look out just in case.
I work in a hospital kitchen at the back of the kitchen a workmate and i were having a coffee out the back and watching the resident plovers ,when we noticed one of the babies had fallen into the gutter,we planned to rescue the chick,she would pick it up while i tried to distract the parents,ha ha .What fantastic parents, to make two grown women look like complete idiots flinging arms and legs around although we had some mental disturbance would have been quite a laugh for any on looker,althuogh the tiny baby was reunited with its parents and we were very satisfied with our results,so i think shaking arms and legs and yelling derictly at the birds is the answer to keeping them away.
Thanks for that Wendy -you gave me a good laugh. I can just picture it.
all you do is clap your hands at them remember they are more scared of you
or you should get under a small low tree
I don’t have a problem with swooping plovers but a problem with night-time “screaming/bleeting” plovers. I live on a semi-rural estate and until 12 months ago the block next door was vacant and from time to time I would see a pair of plovers on the block and in the long grass at the back fence. I figured they must have been nesting. Since the house has been built next door the birds come back from time to time mostly at night & mostly when we have had a lot of rain and start “screaming/bleeting”. Are they trying to find their old nesting place? The noise is so loud and it goes on constantly for hours. As my bedroom is at the back of the house I have to close all the doors & put the ceiling fan on in order to drown out the noise. Some nights I even put earplugs in as it is so annoying. Do you have any suggestions for this very sleep deprived homeowner?
Hi there Julie,
Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. I am sorry to say that I have no experience in dealing with this problem. I don’t recall reading in any of the reference books or anything on the internet about anyone who has successfully dealt with the problem.
I would only be guessing but my observations seem to indicate that these birds are highly territorial and will defend their nest or their patch against all intruders. Any sudden movement or noise will also set off their calls. Is there a dog or cat or some other animal which disturbs them in the immediate vicinity, or even flashing lights, traffic movement or pedestrians?
I have plovers nesting in our front yard! it is so bad i can’t go to the letter box, take out the bins, mow the lawn or do anything out side without beeing attacked! After many phone calls I found someone who relocates them but charges $300.00 he said they will keep on nesting there even after the eggs hatch.
There is absolutely nothing you can do stop them attacking you…trust me I know. If I need to check the mail box I have to drive my car to the box and stick my arm out the window!
It’s been really interesting reading all of these comments – imagine, one or two little birds causing all this fuss! I’m sure they’d be pleased with themselves. We have recently moved house, and have a couple of plovers who have taken up residence on our (lovely flat & convenient for them!) roof. I don’t think they’re nesting – and hopefully they don’t when the season is right, but they are so so noisy, especially in the pre-dawn hours. Barely a night goes by when they wake us up – it’s dreadful. Does anyone have any ideas as to what I could put on the roof to discourage them? I was thinking a black cat silhouette like people put in fruit trees.
Peter sent this comment via email:
Good luck Gemma,
I think you’r in for a treat.
We have a similar house to the one you describe and the critters did nest on the roof.
The problem is they attack from above and are very menacing.
My wife stepped out the front door and was talking to a visitor so forgot about the birds.
They both attacked screaming from above panicking my wife. She lost her balance and fell backward hitting her back on the veranda post then her head on the patio. She was injured and in pain for weeks, but it could have been a lot worse.
What can you do short of a shot gun.
Wear a good hat because when they swoop they can hit you with the spikes in their wings. This can cause a lot of pain.
Encourge kookaburras. They raid the elevated nest and take the young.
Try hosing them off the roof before the nest is established.
I would remind readers that all Australian native birds are protected by law, so Peter’s suggestion of a shot gun is not legal – though I do acknowledge that it was probably meant in jest – or frustration.
Introduced birds are not protected – check with your local Parks and Wildlife authorities for the laws in your state.
do plovers swoop at night???? i want to know because my GF reckons they do n i reckon they cnt. plz help me figure this puzzle out.
Peter left this comment via email:
They most certainly do.
They are just as aggressive as during the day.
SHOOT THEM ALL
Thanks for visiting my birding blog Johnnie.
Your “solution” is out of line – and very illegal.
Australian birds are protected by law.
This blog is to encourage people to enjoy and appreciate our wonderful bird life – even if some species cause us a few headaches and inconvenience. Redneck responses like yours are NOT appreciated – even if you feel strongly about the issue.
Unfortunately Johnnie won’t get to read my response to him. He left an invalid email address.
Plovers can be very annoying, so I can understand why the “shoot them” comments are made.
We had some blue cheeked honey-eaters build their nest in our palm tree, which is within arm’s reach of our back deck & the parents never worried about us [even though we’re always using the deck & have 4 dogs who also run around the deck all day]
The baby honey-eater flew inside our house & I quietly caught it in a teatowel & put it back outside for it’s parents.
The resident magpies have built their annual nests in our gum trees ever since we moved to Samford in 1996 & not once have they troubled us or our dogs.
The baby magpies have sometimes sat on our fence post & cried for us to feed them.
Yet the dopey plovers are still paranoid after all this time & screech & dive at us all.
What annoying twirps !!!!
ha ha ha
We found a plovers nest in our back yard, my husband wants to leave the eggs to hatch, I went on line hunting for imformation, and found out that the eggs can take up to 28 days to hatch, then 6 weeks for the young to fly. I have mowed the lawn once since the eggs were noticed, I put a hoody on my head and found it was a lot of stress for the birds, I have caculated they should hatch on 8/8/09 and then another six weeks before we get our back yard back, so this will teach me for worrying how neat the lawn is. I don’t know when the lawn will get mowed next, but I can tell you it will be getting long by the time 7 weeks is up
Are there any organisations or not for profit organisations that you can contact to have the birds removed for relocation? In Tasmania I believe they are a protected species!
I noticed this morning that the young aer aspporaching somewhat close to our house and I had to do a runner around our balcony and into the shed, I was only heading to the clothes line. Will all the family move on after the young are ready to fly? We have 5 acres which we can not do much with atht moment because they roam the paddocks! Start in one paddock of a morning and move to another one in the afternoon which I believe is where the nest is located.
The problem is really simple to fix really, all it takes is a bit of courage. Plovers are like dogs really as in if a dog is standing there barking at you and you run away the dog will chase you and probably try to bite you, whereas if you continue walking past the dog and hold your ground and don’t run or show any fear then the dog may keep barking but won’t chase you. Its the same with plovers, if you are walking across an area where plovers are and the plovers get all riled and swoop at you instead of getting panicked and running away walk at your normal pace and when the birds come to swoop at you just look straight at them, you will see the kind of effect that this has on the birds, they soon loose their bravado and stay at a reasonable distance, they still swoop but they don’t get anywhere close to you, not like if you run. I guess it just goes to show that they are really more scared of you than you are of them, it works just look straight at them and they will more or less leave you alone. Or you could paint some big scary eyes on the top of a had and wear that!
Thanks for your suggestions Simon – it’s worth a try. I know it works for magpies and see no reason why it work for other species too.
My husband mowed the lawn the other day with eyes put on the back of his hat and that did work, plovers did swoop but turned away at about a metre
We have a resident pair of plovers (and four chicks).
My children now have to be picked up from the walk home from school, the mail can’t be collected, the lawns mowed or anyone permitted out in the front yard, my dog’s are attacked and the car swooped as I back out the drive. If that is not bad enough the screeching all night drives you mad.
The problem is not just during nesting, but for about three months of the year. I am about to mass plant in my front yard as this can discourage them.
I found somebody to remove them, but it will cost $330.00 The removalist takes the chicks and hand rears them. Problem is if the chicks are removed the pair just nest again and we are back at square one and another $330.00.
Contact the Department of Sustainability and environment for somebody licensed to remove the birds if you can afford it.
I have read with interest all the comments here. Currently I have a plover and its mate sitting on four eggs about a metre from my mailbox. I contacted Parks and Wildlife Department here in QLD and they sent me signs to put up stating that this was Plover Territory and people should avoid going near the birds and eggs.It is illegal to touch the birds or the eggs .There are people who are licensed to remove the birds for around $200….HOWEVER ,there is a Catch 22. If there is no vacant land or parkland within 150 metres of the nest, then even licensed wildlife handlers are unable to do anything.
The birds are very aggressive but dont seem to be bothered by the car or the posties motorbike…however, they do bother anyone delivering junk mail ,or who is walking nearby.I suppose the upside is , I dont get nearly as much junk coming into my mailbox!
They divebomb me when I try to put out the bins or collect mail.I have found an umbrella to be effective but they still scare the daylights out of me!
I am definately an animal lover but at times , my patience with these darned birds is wearing very thin!
I think the ruddy bird knew it was on a good thing when it laid its eggs on my front lawn as I have shooed of kids, dogs and even cats in the middle of the night. My thanks ,is that the ungrateful bird swoops me every morning!
Someone told me that they return to the same spot every year to lay their eggs….NOT if I can help it. As soon as the chicks are hatched and away, I am going to plant some shrubbery there!
In the meantime myself and my dogs are sitting inside growing fat from lack of walkies everyday!
I went out this morning and my plover has abandoned all of its eggs. It hasnt been on the nest all day and the male plover has just been standing across the road looking sad.I feel kind of sad in a way as I was hoping to see some chicks hatch but now it looks as if foul play has befallen the hen bird.I guess I will just have to leave the eggs sitting in their nest as they probably cant even be incubated now. Seems a shame that the poor hen was sitting on them for three weeks and guarding them vigilently.
I wonder whether someone touched them?
It is possible that someone has interfered with the nest or eggs. If the hen bird is no longer around it could indicate that she has met an unfortunate ending. Perhaps a cat or dog has taken her, or even a fox.
The eggs will most certainly be too cold now to incubate. Unfortunately the attrition rate amongst birds is rather high.
Thanks for stopping by and leaving your sad story.
Hi Glenda, our plovers returned about 6 weeks ago. I thought here we go again. But for some unknown reason they have disappeared. Haven’t seen either of them for about 2 weeks. Your story sounds so sad, it’s got me wondering about our pair.
Sent from Kellys iPhone
I put up signs from Wildlife asking people not to interfere with the birds and apart from a few quick looks at the nest , everyone complied.
I heard her in the morning and then she disappeared.The male waited all day and then flew away and I left the eggs all night so there would be no chance of incubating them now.
I scared off cats and dogs and she was always okay so its a mystery to me why she just went.I suspect foul play although other people told me that they are notoriously bad parents. Still it is sad as she sat patiently for nearly four weeks.
I did my level best to protect her.
Wow, i have just been reading all your comments and i am in the same situation, there are a pair of plovers that have taken up residency in my garden right near my letter box, i haven’t been able to get my mail for over a week… we live right near a school and across the road from a day care centre, our street is full of children and family’s before and after school. It’s worrying my partner and i, the birds will not let the children walk on the foot path in front of our house, they stick there claws out from the wings and squak like crazy which is very frightening for the children and there for they have to cross the road which is dangerous with all the school traffic.. I would really like them gone, does anyone know who i can contact about this?
Hi, I too have been reading about the plovers. I ride on a small horse stud and have discovered this morning that the plovers have layed there 4 eggs right in the middle of the horse arena, the plovers I noticed have been hanging around in that erena for a few days now but I only notice eggs today as I entred the arena and the plover raised it wings to scare us away, they are causing me no harm as of yet so I will stay away from arena till they run there cycle…P.S they are a very noisie birds…
I have the EXACT same problem and i am over it.. I have offices at home and all we here all day long is the plovers sqwarking… We also cant put foot on the lawn without being bombed.. which isnt too big a deal during working hours but now that its getting warmer im worried for my neice and nephew, not to mention myself.
PLEASE someone tell me how I can remove them from my lawn..??
Ok, i think i have a solution to our problem, the other day my partner went outside (when the birds weren’t there) and covered there nest in our garden with a brick and they did come back once, but we haven’t seen them again, it’s been a couple of days now and he has removed the brick from our garden and still NO MORE PLOVERS!!! 🙂 Hope it works for you..
Thankyou soo much gathering bricks as we speak 😀
All very interesting!!! Our problem is they have nested on you roof top terrace and as summer approaches we would like to use it. Does anyone know how long it takes for their eggs to hatch? They seem to have been up there for about a month. We don’t really want to disturb them but I also work night shift and all they do is squawk throughout the day 🙁
How long does it take for the eggs to hatch? Am waiting for the eggs to hatch so i can finish extentions…the plover is very aggressive..
Hi there Melanie,
I can’t find any answer to this question in my reference books or online. Going on what I know about other birds, I’d take a guess and say about 18-21 days.
I have been watching a pair of plovers nesting each year for the past 6 years near the school, and what I have found is that it takes approx. 6 weeks for the chicks to be born
This year they already have had 3 chicks and lost them one way or another ( crows snatching them or through sickness)This is in only just over 1 week
Now I see that they are nesting again. Last year they nested 4 times and only 1 bird survived over the period from August to December
Thanks for that information Barbara. I must say it seems rather a long time for the size of bird and the size of their eggs. The general rule is – the larger the bird, the larger the egg and the longer it takes to hatch. That’s a very broad generalisation of course.
I’ve just done another web search. Incubation takes 28-30 days but they can take another 6-7 weeks to fledge (be able to fly) and are not fully independent for another 8-10 months. For more information check out:
We have had a pair of plovers in our yard for over 2 months, they had 3 eggs but only two babies hatched. The babies are now about a month old and the parents have bred again, one goes with the babies while the other stays on the nest. Is this common, we have had them in our yard for as long as i can remember every year a pair comes but I haven’t seen this before.
They are known to breed up to 3 or 4 times in a season so multiple broods are common.
I spent the afternoon watching two adult plovers and 3 chicks roam around the corner of our block and road. I heard very distressed squawking and rushed outside a butcher bird and I think minor birds were attacking the chicks. 1 chick appeared to have been dropped and was laying further up the road. One of the Plovers was going nuts spreading it wings and jumping up towards the tree. The butcher bird flew out. And the chick was having trouble getting up. I had to go out and when I drove down the street the adult plover was sitting on the chick. When I came back they were further down the slope of the road and the chick seemed to have trouble walking. The chicks foot seemed to be damaged. I felt so sad. They finished up wandering back along the road not sure where they came from even tho we do see the adult ones regularly. I hope the chick is ok. I might contact parks and wildlife about some kind of signage. There are a lot of plovers nesting down here but not many chicks seem to make it. Are they protected species in all states or just Tasmania?
So for the long post. 🙂
Thanks for this Suzanne,
It is my understanding that all Australian native birds are protected by law throughout Australia. (This does not apply to introduced birds such as the House Sparrow, Common Starling, Common Myna (not to be confused with the Noisy Miner which is a native honeyeater).
Ok in reading all these I am terrified of walking outside now. I am afraid of birds anyway. Petrified of the things. I can’t even go near a feather. I am so worried about what would happen to me if a bird decided to swoop me. I think I would litterally loose the plot!
I have to walk from the car to the office. About 500 metres. Would walking with an umbrella help? Do they only attack from above?
Oh and if you live in Brisbane. Stay away from the Carina dog park carpark. My friend got swooped there on the weekend by 2 plovers!
Hi there Lauren,
Sorry to hear of your fear of birds. Did you have a terrifying experience early in life with a bird or birds? It could explain the feelings you have. I had a similar feeling towards dogs after being attacked by one at age 7. When my adult daughter got a dog, I had to deal with my fear and it took quite some time to be comfortable.
99.9% of birds will NOT harm you in any way.
Of the remainder, those that swoop are merely defending their territory, especially if they have young nearby. In most cases the swoop comes from above and behind, so carrying an umbrella is a good safeguard. Plovers sometimes will swoop from in front – so you will see them coming.
No, nothing from when I was little that I can remember. I have always been like it. My grandmother was the same (I never knew her) and I found out recently that 2 of my cousins are also petrified. So perhaps it’s genetic. It’s VERY annoying having this fear and living in Australia. I have tried hypnotism 3 times but that doesn’t work. Those turkeys are a major problem for me as there are usually 2 or 3 outside of my work. I would rather deal with those though than something swooping me.
It’s not even the pecking I am worried about. It’s the feathers touching me. IKES!
Thanks for the advise. Will use my umbrella for sure now!!!
hello everyone we also have a problem with plovers, we live on 10 acres and my daughter and i have horses but we can’nt go out to them with out being attacted by plovers it terrifies my daughter we had the same problem last year but when the chicks hatched they were unfortunately taken by foxes. I have never seen the nests. hope foxes dont get them this year!
It is a common problem – just read all the comments above!
Would wearing your riding helmets when you go out to the horses help at all. At best – the helmet would protect your head from being scratched.
Are you still riding the horses? If so, how do the plovers react to horses galloping along?
I live just south of Brisbane and have had a pair of Plovers nesting (if you can call it a nest, just a small dent in the lawn) in our front yard for about a month right next to our driveway. this has caused major dramas with people coming and going and my grandchildren. Any sign of movement set them off on a dive bombing tyrade. We have been monitoring their behaviour in regards to their nesting as we are heavily into nature but this morning everything was gone. The birds, the eggs and absolutely no signs of anything. No egg shell bits, no feathers not anything. Looked everywhere for signs of foul play and found nothing. If a lizard had eaten the eggs there would be some shell left around. The only other answer could be a snake as they eat the eggs whole. My grandson mentioned yesterday afternoon that he thought he saw a carpet snake. I am very disappointed as I was looking forward to seeing the babies. OH, and I found the best way to combat their dive bombing is to carry some leafy tree branches and wave them above and around my head. They didn’t seem to bother with me. Maybe someone else could try this and let us all know how they got on.
We’ve used a similar technique with swooping magpies while hiking in the Wyperfeld National Park, Victoria some years ago.
Thanks for visiting and leaving your comments.
Jenny sent me this message via email.
These plovers that nest in my paddock have not left since last season. They have hung around & have now nested again in the paddock near where I put my bagged horse manure. They have started to become aggressive when I set foot in the paddock to bag the manure. As I spend on average 3 hours/day with the horses Mon-Fri & longer on weekends I have come up with a strategy. I now use a large umbrella to protect myself. So far it has worked as they seem a little cautious, they still swoop but don’t seem to do it for as long. I feel a lot safer, however it takes me longer to clean my 8 stables as I can only carry one bucket, whilst the other hand holds the umbrella.
If only they knew i am not there to hurt them I just want to get on & enjoy my horses.
People offer to fix the problem, but there is no way I would allow anyone to remove the eggs…they are just trying to protect their family.
Hay Trevor, we carry a stick and wave it around while we collect our horses, yes we do ride them but not in the same paddock as the birds, They are not aggresive towards the horses at all.
The latest update on the plovers near my house..
Tuesday there were still 3 chicks. The one with the damaged leg/foot was having trouble keeping up. Sadly Wednesday there was only one.
Yesterday still one chick. I am recognising their sounds I know when ppl are walking nearby and when its birds attacking. The Minor birds were causing a bit of trouble last night. The minor birds also had chicks and we making a real ruckus when feeding them. There were quite of lot. There is a cat nearby and one plover seems to patrol that area stopping it from coming down the hill to where the chick is strolling.
Im quite worried about the traffic tho its a dirt road and cars do seem to go faster. I was thinking about putting a sign to slow down but this might make ppl do the opposite.
I was also thinkin of printing a notice out and putting on the local
message board at the shop telling ppl about how they are protected and shouldnt be tampered with.
Last week also I was merging onto the Brooker Highway that connects the city with the Northern Suburbs on the grass verge there was 2 chicks with their parents amazing the places they nest…
I would be amazed if they survived.
Thanks for the update Suzanne – and for being so caring.
Your experience on the highway reminds me of an incident some years ago. One Saturday afternoon we’d been to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. We were at the intersection of Port Road, North Terrace and West Terrace, probably Adelaide’s busiest intersection. Six lanes of traffic on each road – but 2 plovers with 2 chicks barely out of the egg were on the triangular median patch of grass about half the size of a tennis court. Amazing.
The strip these plovers were on was also triangular with a lane of merging traffic then another triangular grassed area on the other side.
The plovers havent been around since Friday just noticed one on the
corner grass. They have been very quiet and Ive missed there early
morning noises. I hope they still have the chick.
I was playing golf today with my brother and his ball landed 4 metres from a nesting pair of plovers. We got swooped, it was great. They were just doing what any parent would do to protect there young. I really was pleased with the whole affair. No one was hurt, no eggs damaged, many laughs and I now know more about these great birds.
i got off the bus the other day, and i walked up to my house(about 20 minutes from bus stop) and because i live in a place similar to a bush land, there is this 1 plover that is breeding, and i walk past it and i dont even look at it, and all of a sudden it starts flying about a metre near me and almost swoops me , it scares me sooooo much, does anyone have a solution for this?
my brother and i, were walking home one day and these plovers just started swooping us, they didnt touch us, but they got about 30 centimetres away from the both of us, it scared us both sooo much, we just sprinted all the way home, it may have made it worse, but i hate plovers, does anyone have a solution?
Hi there “scared” and “why??” – from your address you must be the same person.
The plovers attack only because you have wandered too close to either their nest or their chicks. They see you as a threat to their eggs or their little one and just want to protect them by chasing you away.
You can try walking along with a stick held above your head or try walking with an open umbrella. That way they won’t hit you and hurt you. The umbrella will also protect you from the sun. It might look silly, and feel silly, but it is better than getting hurt. It may also help you to overcome getting frightened by them.
I havent seen the 2 adult plovers and chick for days now. 🙁
Yesterday and Today I saw one adult plover not sure if its from the same pair one or not.
I wonder if they are very territorial to where they breed and hang out?
Would another plover wander into their space?
Hi Suzanne – in my experience they are quite territorial when nesting. That partly explains their aggressive nature when sitting on eggs or with young. How loyal they are to one nesting site I’m not sure. Once the chicks hatch they can move about quite freely while protecting the little ones. I’m not sure how strictly they adhere to the territory and if they chase off intruders of their own species.
In the non-breeding months of the year I have seen large congregations of hundreds of them over as small an area as several football ovals.
Sorry – this doesn’t really answer your questions but my reference books are inadequate for this species.
I had seen just the 2 adult plovers and no chicks, but the last week its just only one plover. I dont know if the other one would be nesting somewhere or not. But in another spot where there have been 2 plover there is only one as well. Its quite strange that Im only seeing single plovers now.
I suspect that they might be nesting again. In certain conditions they can be very hard to see camouflaged by grass when sitting on eggs.
I hope you are right. The other plover furthest away from my house nearby where they normal are theres something flattened on the road. 🙁
Im hoping that its a kookaburra and not the mate of the single plover.
I just went outside 15mins ago and the plover was busy digging worms out of my lawn. I walked quietly to the bin and back and it didnt move at all.
We have swooping plovers at our school. And ive seen the 4 eggs before.
Everyday after school we go to the oval and annoy them its very fun,
they also come real close and we like geting swooped.
The umbrella works beautifully against swooping plovers of which we have two with 4 eggs right near our letter box for the last 3 weeks!!!
Adrian – be warned.
You are breaking the law.
You may think it great fun to harass the plovers but this is prohibited by law in all states of Australia. You are breaking the law. You cannot harm any of our native birds, nor can you take eggs from or destroy the eggs or nests of our native birds and you cannot harm or harass them.
It not only saddens me – it makes me angry that you think it is fun to harass these birds.
Nupur – it is great news that the umbrella idea works. Well done.
All people who love our wildlife would be saddened and angry as Trevor is about the harrasing of the plovers (and any wildlife)
It seems you are very young and oneday you may grow up to know what harm you were doing. You may even have children of your own one day and realize then what you would do if your children were attacked every day! The plovers are only protecting their young chicks.
Before you go chasing the plovers after school think how you would be if one of those spurs on their wings ripped your face or eye out!
Thanks for your support Barbara. I’ve also had support offline from others who have read Adrian’s comments and my reply.
You sound like a very immature idiot exhibiting such sociopathic behaviour!
All Australian birds are protected and you are just being a bully and very foolish.Do you torture pets of your own?
The plovers only pose a threat to people for a few weeks of the year.
It is people like you who will eventually wipe out species of wildlife.
I hope someone catches you and your cronies and reports you to the police!Maybe you will learn a lesson when a bird actually does you a physical injury!
Wake up to yourself and start to grow up!
Sadly I think that goes on in a lot of playgrounds. I know it does at my daughters school. I think there needs to be some kind of education
regarding the plovers that nest in playgounds. I was thinking of placing an ad in the school newsletter relating to this.
I think what I thought was the flattened mate of a plover near my house was in fact a seagull. Still makes me wonder what happened to the other one. Also the plovers that had the chicks near my house seems to be a single plover also.. Its been spending lots of time on my lawn eating worms. Tonight I looked out the window and I could see the plover and in the tree nearby there were 2 rainbow lorikeets and 1 green rosella that are emdemic to Tasmania and two noisy minors flew over. Made me smile.. 🙂
Thanks for that Suzanne. Although it is a slow method, education is probably our best course of action. Over 35 years of primary classroom teaching I tried as much as I was able to educate children in my care about the important place of all wildlife, and birds in particular.
Now that I have retired, this site is trying to further my role as an educator, albeit on a much broader scale now thanks to the internet (this site averages over 600 readers daily from over 100 countries).
I have learnt not to chase the plovers and I will not do it again.
I already knew they had spurs on their wings but they actually never hit you.
Recently i have been attacked by a magpie at a local park and its not fun at all.
I have learnt my lesson.
Hey guys, this is Adrian’s brother… I AM IF YOUR THINKING I MADE IT UP!!
anyway, we do have plovers at our school and everyone loves chasing. I used to aswell though… 🙁 i stoped after about a week of liking it but adrian kept doing it but then your replies made him stop so thank-you all who replied!!!
now the only time i get swooped on the oval is when i have to get a soccer ball or something.
P.S i dont like getting the ball and getting swooped but i like to play soccer with my froends.
Well done Adrian and Adam.
Did you see Dr Harry on “Better Homes and Gardens” last night? His item was about swooping magpies. He suggested that an effective way of stopping magpies swooping was to wear an empty ice cream container like a hat and paint big eyes on the back. Magpies always swoop from behind – but if they see the big eyes looking at them they get scared and fly away. It might look funny – but if it saves you from getting hurt it might be worth it.
LOL – I can just see you and all of your friends running around playing soccer with funny looking “hats” on your heads! It might even get on “Funniest Home Videos”
Thanks again boys. Well done.
Also do plovers make contact alot? Because everytime i get swooped they never hit me but they come close.
That’s a very good question Adrian.
Plovers can make contact when they swoop but this is fairly rare. If one does happen to make contact it can cause a nasty injury – even to the wing of the bird. Most people who are really scared of them are frightened by the terrible noise they make when attacking.
You can read more about them by clicking on these links:
We live on a large house block on the south coast of NSW. There have been plovers here the 3 years we have been living here. How can I gently persuade them not to nest here again? I would like our 1 year old to be able to play in our backyard
🙁 Unfortinetly, Today at school everyone chased the plovers… Including… Adrian. His friends did it aswell… its all they care about. and its not only adrian and his friends… basically a quater of the school like chasing the plovers and at our school there are 657 kids so a quater of that would be over 150 kids
P.S To trevor I am wondering… to plovers recignise what you look like? because they come really really close to Adrian and he has to dive for it. Adrian probably chases them the most in the school so im wondering if they recignise him?
Hi there Adam,
I think that the plovers might recognise individual people. Swooping magpies certainly pick certain people to swoop and leave others alone, so it would not surprise me if plovers were the same.
Do you know any people who harass plovers and chase them
1. just lay down as said in the description
2.the helmet thing as said but next time put cable ties on them.
3. STAY OUT of there way.
No Adrian – the people I know are sensible enough to leave them alone.
Hi there Sarah,
Keeping the yard free of the plovers for your 1 year old is a challenge. Once the plovers have finished breeding and move on the problem is solved – for a while. Until they return next season. The only thing I can think of is one of those gazebo type tents – with a roof (keeps sun off) and fly netting on the sides (keeps the flies and mosquitoes off). Confining a toddler to this small area is the next challenge! There’s no easy solution I’m afraid.
To Trevor… Is there way we could get the plovers off our school oval
About an hr ago the single plover was making a bit of a racket and when I looked out there were 2. Im hoping this is his/her mate that has been missing for sometime. Perhaps she/he haave been nesting again.
I can still hear them and its getting dark now.
The other plover around the road still seems to be single.
And the plover on the grass near the Highway in Hobart I noticed yesterday it also was by itself.
I need to find more information about these cute pesky plovers.
There also was a story in the Mercury Newspaper about plovers during the week. I can’t believe they didnt mention how it is illegal to tamper with the eggs or the chicks.. 🙁
Today, my son’s Under 11 cricket match was thrown into chaos by a few of these horrible birds. Meanest things I’ve ever seen – the plovers, not the boys!!!
In one part of the oval, the fielders had to wear batting helmets to protect themselves from the three (I think) birds, one a bit larger than the other two. One of the mums found an egg somewhere and tried to relocate it but it had no noticeable affect on the constant attacks.
It really put the wind up the boys who gave up trying to look big and brave and kept hitting the deck and screaming like girls – shame nobody had a video camera!!!
The swooping kept up on and off for well over three hours, although they never made contact, but boy they came close quite a few times.
Sorry, I like birds a lot – love the rainbows in our bottle-brush, even the protective magpies – but I’m NOT a member of the Plover Fan Club.
Today around the road from where I live there has been only 1 plover for weeks this morning there were 2 adult plovers and 1 little
chick. They must have been nesting somewhere else. It would be about 6 weeks since they were last on eggs. I was so pleased when I saw them.
Perhaps this will also be the case of the plovers that have been here near my house. fingers crossed. 🙂
The lady trying to locate an egg probably wasnt helping
in anyway. I would guess thats what the Plovers seemed a bit cranky having their Eggs moved or touched.
Thanks Suzanne. Yeah, I’m sure it was a bad idea to touch the eggs – but by the time I heard about it it was too late. Anyway, that happened after probably an hour or more of attacks, so it was already pretty full-on by that stage.
Do plovers invade other birds’ nests? I have sparrows and other small birds nest annually in spaces in my brick cavity wall. It’s a very, very small cavity. This year was no exception and until yesterday, we could hear chicks chirping. Yesterday, there were plovers looking into the cavity. First time I’ve seen plovers around these very small cavities. Today all the chirping has gone. Would a plover snack on a Sparrow’s chick?
Hi there Spyderman, welcome to my blog. Plovers mainly feed on insects and worms. The chirping of chicks of other birds might be confusing them. They probably think they are hearing a tasty cricket chirping! Having said that, many birds take an interest in and will try different sources of food. They might well peck at a baby sparrow to see if it was suitable to eat. Getting the chicks out of the cavities would pose a problem though. I suspect the baby sparrows have flown the nest. We have heaps of young sparrows here at present – and the adults are busy mating for the next brood.
I was wondering if Plovers will swoop when they dont have young or eggs.
I say no but I’m not sure about that. I’d be surprised though if they did. Normally they are just protecting their eggs or young when they swoop.
hi iam james and at my school there are plovers on the oval and about half the school goes out there and tries to get the ball at lunch. one day at lunch time the teachers sent only 1 yes 1 volenteer only. about 1/4 of the shool tried out but they all failed. but then it was my turn and i was sprinting out there when suddenly 2 came at me they were charging luckely there was the soocor goal post in front of me about 10 meters away. and so it was a race aginst speed whow would get there first…well be back on are you smater then to belive some guy on a computer?
Havent seen the plover chick for a few weeks now…………it would be too young to leave the older ones yet..
Guess something got that too.. 🙁
THIS IS IMPORTANT…
if you see them and they have been going away in fear, DO NOT RUN OR WALK QUICKLY WITH YOUR BACK turnde to them. I have seen idiot teens annoy these birds and one the kids tun their backs they get their ass’s whooped. it’s pretty funny but NOT when it’s happening to you. If you need to get rid of them then get a big shotg… oh wait. get a HUGE group of people and terrorise them out of their spot. Do it continually and they should leave. Only do it if they don’t have a chick, eggs or if they arn’t swooping.
I am delivering newspapers. I have two routes to my destination. I went the shorter way, and there was a roaming medium-large dog. Got back, called the council.
Went the slightly longer way, and there were two plovers… got back, googled plovers. No solution? Sad face… Now I have to take the SUPER LONG route which will likely quadruple the time necessary…
We live on an acreage outside of Ballarat in Victoria. We have a pair of plovers who often choose an unsafe spot in our front yard, near our front gate. Its unsafe because a couple of times, we have found their eggs have been broken, we assume its foxes that have come in the front gate and helped themselves to a protein meal!! The birds go when this happens. However, we did have a couple set up their nest in our small paddock and we watched them raise a healthy pair of chicks undisturbed over there. No sooner did the babies hatch than within a few days, they all disappeared. We try to be patient with them, but it can be quite hard, because their noise and swooping of us as well as our dogs can try our patience. But they are a protected bird and anyway, we are nature lovers, the last thing we would do is harm any of the wonderful birds we have living around our farm, even painful plovers!!!
My brother got swooped by one of theys birds
Unfortunately there is not a lot you can do when plovers are nesting, they don’t ever seem to leave the area even when breeding season is over. However, they are not aggressive during this time.I have horses & for years now I get attacked every time I go into the paddock. I find if you carry a large umbrella this gives you protection as you can hold the umbrella up as they approach & bring it down closer to you as they swoop.Carrying the umbrella means it takes me longer to do my chores & can be difficult as I need two hands. Idon’t like being attacked so it is a comprimise. I definitely recommend the umbrella especially for anyone walking along the road etc.
Good luck, at the end of the day they are just being “good parents” & looking after their babies.
We have the problem with Plovers nesting on our lawn at the moment. My 4 year old and I got swooped the other day. It was really scary. I am annoyed though that they are taking over my backyard! I respect the fact that they are protecting their young, a parent can identify, but I can’t even hang my washing out on the line without being threatened by these birds. I just hope the egg hatches soon and that they move along quickly – the kids are going stir crazy not being able to play in the backyard.
how long does it take for the eggs to hatch??? we have them on the front lawn???
I starrted working at a Historic Museum and my 1st encounter with a pair of plovers was being swooped by both constantly whilst trying in enter a building. I then found out that they had 4 babies on the roof next door. Since then, I have been fascinated with these protective, beautiful birds.
I’ve been here six weeks and during this time Ive been able to watch them daily with their babies. They have distinct calls that I can decifer now. I love these birds. Their personalities are cantankerous and obnoxious, but they are such loving parents to their babies. They are also protective of the baby ducks, and swoop other birds to help the adult ducks. They do get jealous when I feed the baby ducks first, especially the male plover, but this is only because he is still wary of me getting too close to feed his babies. He now will feed off me, or bring his babies over to the food once I have gone a safe distance away. They no longer swoop me, and I can get quite close to them. I cant believe other people kill them and was disappointed to hear a lot of school janitors throw their eggs from the school fields. I hav educated my 4 children, as well as their friends to leave them alone, and they now protect other plovers they come across from being harmed.
I think they are unique and fascinating.
what do u feed them?? i have three babies so far 1 egg left to hatch!!!
We had a pair in our front yard that nested then moved on, but now my neighbour has a pair that is located near my backyard and is causing my family considerable grievance. Everytime I put washing out, do some gardening or attend to the horses they swoop at me. I’ve tried using an umbrella, the garden rake, a broom and even the garden hose, but they still swoop at you. They take filght in pairs and come at you from different directions. I am seriously considering taking some drastic action to get rid of these birds…
[…] Here’s a different account from someone who’s a little less emotional about the whole thing: Trevor. He rocks. […]
Today was the first time in my life I was ever swooped by a bird. It was a plover and was no joke the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. I’m seriously
considering buying a sling shot because the plover was swooping me over and over again and I eventually got run out onto the road onto a roundabout and luckily was missed by a car. I’m assuming the driver was curious as to why I was running and screaming in a weird zig zag pattern across the road. Plovers are scary and dangerous and I want them dead. Seriously
i hate plovers 🙁
to trevor, how do sticks help???
I find carrying a large umbrella really does help. It does not stop them from swoopimg at you but at least you can hide under the umbrella & the bigger the umbrella the better. You at least feel you have some protection.
By holding a stick above your head means that the bird has to swerve away at the last moment to avoid hitting the stick. That way it won’t also hit you.
It doesn’t help you being terrified of the horrible noise they make though!
It’s the “build up” here in Darwin aka spring down south. The plovers are out protecting their nests near the East Point Aeromodellers Club airstrip. They generally can’t keep up with the planes, but I fly an electric glider. They attack it all the time. Today they tore the rudder completely off! I ended up searching for an hour in the mangrove swamp to find my downed plane. I want to put a piezo seen in my plane, but I’d like to know if they are frightened of sounds. Mqaybe I should paint eyes on the rudder. Any thoughts?
At my kids primary school plovers took up reisdency right in the middle of the playing field. The department of education said you can’t touch them. The kids have learnt not to annoy them and just keep a healthy distance and now enjoy the plovers and watching them with their young. Sadly, cockatoo’s came along and constantly bombed them for nearly 5 hours killing one of the chicks. The kids did projects on plovers and learnt about them rather than hate them and now most of them don’t want them to leave. It’s all about working with nature not trying to control it. The plovers now let the kids come to within 3m of them before getting defensive because the kids respect them rather than try and get rid of them. Sure, they can be annoying but I find some people way more annoying and rude and threatening than plovers.
Good on you Bob….well said. I agree with you 100%
Good comment Bob. Nice to hear that some people are teaching kids to respect these birds who are only trying to protect their nests and eggs. I am sick of seeing people say that they want to kill, maim or harm these protected birds because of their aggressive nature when they are nesting.More people should learn to respect and show kindless towards our wildlife and protect them!
[…] Australians are familiar with the Masked Lapwing (Spur-winged Plover) as they are very common around parks, ovals, school grounds and farmlands. I […]
We live on 25 acres at Limeburners Creek and have plovers nesting in our front yard, which is quite a large yard, but every time we walk up the driveway to get the mail or put the bins out we get swooped, the birds are more interested in swooping our dogs then us though. We have found the nest so are not mowing on that side of our lawn, and don’t let the dogs out unless we are with them, as one of our dogs stood on their nest last year and squashed two eggs, I felt very bad for the plovers, so this year we are trying to protect their nest, we have shown the kids where the nest is, so we all try and avoid that area. Even though they swoop they never get too close, they always come within 30cm from our dogs but have never hit them, our dogs aren’t fazed by the swooping any more, and I just turn around and look at them and they are metres away from swooping us. We hope we get babies this year. Does anyone know how long it takes for the eggs hatch? Is about 3 weeks?
I just read this and i have been attacked by plovers 10 times not intentionally actually a funny things happened i would watch people go past to see if people would get swooped the weird thing was the wouldn’t, when i walked out i would get attacked it started to unnerve me the way they would attack me but no one else.
Regularly slashing or mowing should prevent the plovers from nesting in your yard.
Thanks for your contribution to the discussion, Richard.
I live on a 4880 m2 block in a rural area of central Qld, Plovers nested on the bottom of the block for two years and gave us hell. On the 3rd year I noticed them settling in again and chased them off on my ride on before they nested and laid eggs, they moved across the road into a park area and have stayed away.
Another thing I noticed, when they lose all the chicks ( happens a lot) they will lay again, I have known this pair to lat 3 times in a season and lose all 3
We have plovers in our street which some of us appreciate but others dislike. Sad how some people have no affinity for wildlife. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this link: http://www.juliusbergh.com/plover
A pair of plovers have laid eggs right near where we walk out of our drive what should we do try to move them or not? do they take 30 days to hatch. Judith
I walk everyday and on my rout I pass by a pair of plovers. You say that they only swoop in the spring but this pair never stop! They are there all year round even when they aren’t nesting and continue to swoop. I dont understand why it is not possible for rangers to capture them and move them out of town so that they are safe from people and people are safe from them.
2 days ago I noticed a couple of Plovers in my backyard. Being Winter I have not needed to mow the lawn. I wish i had mowed as now there are 2 babies. I can’t even look out the window without them going off. I love nature but hate them. These birds did not cause any problem up until 2 days ago, when i guess the babies hatched. [Moderator’s note: swear words have been deleted from this comment]
They won’t stay around for long though Bradley. The babies usually only hang around for a few days and then they’re off. That’s what I’ve observed anyway. I may be wrong.
Cassie, on that, we have a pair of plovers who live in our front padock – their young generally don’t survive (snakes / other birds / cats / drains) which may be why you have have never seen plover chicks around for long? we have only ever witnessed one grow up and ‘leave the nest’ which took a few months (out of about a dozen + chicks over the last two years) – they are aggressive birds, but I can understand why.
Sereena sent these comments via email:
Well, we’ve recently had a pair who nested in the same place as last year. Two years ago, a pair nested near our front gate. It was a bad spot for them (and for us) because taking our bin out and checking the mail was a real pain!
It only lasted a week or two, because they were suddenly gone and when we went to check out the next, there was half an eggshell. Obviously a fox had gotten in during the night.
Last year, they decided to put their nest closer to our garage (again, a nightmare, because they would swoop and attack us when we went out to the car and came in). They successfully hatched their chicks this time and so about a month ago, you guessed it, they came back to exactly the same spot!
After their eggs had hatched however, they hung around for a few days and swooped me when I went out, but they weren’t as aggro as usual and eventually took off further up the paddock.
They drive me crazy, however, its only for a few weeks, so we put up with it. I think the secret is to try and make sure your grass is mowed, cause they like to hide their nests somewhat, so always go for areas with a bit of growth, but not too much, they like to be able to see if there are any threats coming.
We have quite a large number of Plovers where I work and they were swooping us every evening because they have young. We had a couple of blokes clipped in the back of the head by them causing nasty wounds in their scalps so we fixed the problem with some no.6 shot from a pump action shotgun. We haven’t had a problem since.
Thanks for visiting my site, Tom. I hope that you realise that all Australian native birds and animals are protected by law. What you have done is illegal. I am not trying to trivialise the suffering caused to the people hurt by the birds in question; they can be terrifying and cause severe injuries. If any birds cause problems in the future, I would advise you to adhere to the law and contact your local National Parks and Wildlife office.
Shooting them is a valid option if you can’t use your property due to constant attack – that said, locating the nest and removing the eggs is another option. They’re pretty easy to find as they lay on the ground – usually in the open. If you remove their eggs a few times they tend to clear off to find another home.
And plover eggs are quite tasty on toast!
Three strikes – you’re out, Maurie.
On all three counts you are suggesting illegal actions. Shooting native birds is illegal, interfering with nests and eggs is illegal and eating them is illegal.
Sadly, your comments means that I am now closing comments on this article. This site is no place for grumpy people to vent their frustrations.
To Tom re shooting birds with shotgun
Trevor is right in what he says -but he says it in a nice way
You are an idiot and if it wasn’t for the fact that you said that
you work, I would have thought you were the age of a 8 year old
whom you expect to do stupid things like you
I haven’t posted here for over 2 yrs I think. But in that time I have lots of time and opportunities to observe plovers and their chicks. They are such amazing birds.
We have had several families of Plovers visiting out foot path and our neighbours yard. I have lots of time watching them through binoculars. I have many stories and should really have started a journal or blog on them. The most amazing thing was the family of 7 that would fly in of a morning and stay most of the day they fly back of again. They did this for a few months and then then was 6 then just 5. Im not sure what happened to the other 2. I was saddened when a large older plover was run over by a car when the pr had a chick the chick was probably a few mths old but didnt seem to survive the couple of days without both parents. A wildlife lady had the plover in care for a few days then released to back. It was an amazing sight seeing it mates watching and calling as she released it, it flew over and they bumped chests and flew off together, totally amazing to have witnessed. A few weeks ago I found one with its mate that had died.
Im not sure if it had been hit or just died. I couldnt see any marks from it being hit. Perhaps it just died. There have been several that have been hit on the rd out from where I live. It was sad to see one of the pr stand for days near where the dead one layed 🙁
At the moment in the last week I have noticed two siting on eggs it will be interesting watching over the coming weeks. Hopefully ppl will leave them be.
After all my observing the ones near me never swoop unless someone goes near their chicks. It was great to see the plover chick last yr learnig to fly. It did quite a few face plants to start with. Its funny to watch them make a dog move away from the chick. I have seen this so many times. The 2 plovers will dive and swoop and herd the dog well away from the chick/chicks. I also have learnt their calls and u know when someone is walking near. They are great watchdogs. If u stay well clear from wher they are and dont look a threat they will leave u alone. After all they are just protecting their young.
I would love to know how far they travel each day.
They definitely seem to come and nest in the same spots each yr.
I look forward to spring time ahead and hopefully the chance to view the plovers with their chicks once more. 🙂
Its good to see Trevor your site is still running.
Hi there Suzanne,
Thanks for visiting and again leaving your insights into the behaviour of this much maligned bird. They are fascinating and your observations are intriguing.
Yes – my site about Australian birds is still going strongly. It continues to be one of the top birding sites world wide (currently #39 out of many 1000s) and is on track to have well over 100,000 visitors this year. I’ve managed to keep it ticking over nicely with many new articles despite the hindrances of completing my Masters degree, quite a few challenging health issues and some continuing family challenges (an elderly mother we care for).
And next year I plan to include photos and articles about many African birds – after a trip there late this year.
i have read through a number of your experiences and i would like to know how to move the plover on – humanly – i love having them in my backyard but they are attacking and the kids can’t out into the yard. any suggestions.
Every year I am sure it is the same pair of plovers who live in our paddock. In the pasy they have caused me a lot of grief, however I do not wish them any harm & understand they are just protecting their young. Good news was last year & again this year they started their antics but surprisingly moved to someone elses paddock. We have horses & whilst the horses are not frightened of them the birds appear to be more concerned by humans than they do of other animals. When the plovers start swooping I bring in the horses as a reminder to them that there is quite a bit of activity in my paddock so they have moved a long just like last year.I feel quite relieved althogh I can still hear them they are now in a different paddock & one that they don’t have to deal with humans. When they were swooping at me I would carry either a broom with a lagre chaff bag tied on the end or put an umbrella up. Both worked well although it meant I couldn’t carry as much as one hand was always busy. They are very annoying & scary because they appear quite ferrocious when they have you in their sights & are heading towards you. Regardless,they do not deserve to be mistreated or killed. They are God’s creatures & should be respected. We are supposed to be the superior race, so have the intelligence to work out a system that works for you as I have done. That way man & animal can live together.
Im 15 and I hate plovers cause they bug me cause I was walkin to friends one afternoon and we had to cross a field with them so we found stick and we work together and we both decited we need to shoot the but we no it inhumaine but its better then kids being emotionly scared
Hi there, We live in a tiny little culdesac with only 6 houses in it and 1 vacant block of land which has become home to plovers and their newly hatched chicks… How long do they normally hang around for after the chicks are born before they go away??? There are 8 kids who live in the street and usually play cricket and ride their bikes etc outside, but they cannot due to these birds we really want to know when they might be gone. Thanks
Hi there! I was bemused to see this afternoon a plover sitting on what must be a new egg in the front of our place in the horse paddock…just where the horses will want to stand around when I bring them back in a few days. I adore the plovers, with their swooping, lovely cries, and faithful pairing, and this must be a new pair as I have not seen them before let alone nesting in the gateway! Can I move the egg away a little where it might be safer; maybe at the worst it would stop them laying a whole clutch??
I have noticed quite a few chicks at the moment. They seem to be early this yr. Quite a few on eggs.
They dont normally move to far from the nesting site with the chicks. Last yr the plovers and one chick would appear at our place then in the late afternoon squawk their way back done the street to where they would settle for the night then returning again next morning, u could nearly set your watch to it. From what Ive seen is they swoop when the chicks are still small enough for them to sit on and of course if there are eggs and u go near them.
From memory Lee the plovers stay where the eggs were hatched for a few weeks then will move around with their chicks.
I would love to know how far they roam with their chicks.
we also had 7 plovers 2 adults and 5 young plovers that could fly turn up each day they were amazing couldnt believe how they all survived… they looked awesome flying they would spend the day in my neighbours fenced lawned area…
I was told the other day By a Parks and Wildlife Officer) its impossible for the plovers to strike with their spurs because they face backwards on the wings.. unless they are reversing.. 🙂 The plover use the spurs for fighting on the ground with predators…
We had four eggs laid on our wharf at work. We put safety hats around them so they would be protected from the little traffic we have on site but then when a contractor needed them moved and did so, the four eggs were left unattended/disowned by mum and dad who have lived on our site for the past few years that we know of. So if you don’t want to kill the babies please don’t move the eggs. And to think we are next door to the bush they still prefer the cement and traffic of the wharf, go figure.
If the plover is swooping you. To avoid this pretend that you have a rock or a stick or when the plover bird is near you pretend to punch it and it will actually swoop away. Why it is swooping away watch out for it but make a (break away) or start to run away wile still noticing if the plover bird is still trying to protect it self why swooping at you.
I wonder sometimes if they nest in weird spots like traffic areas because its less likely for cats to be hanging around.
My husband said he saw 2 adults and 3 older chicks yesterday and the parents were herding them down the road where there is roadworks going on past all the workers, he said it looked funny they were squawking away. When I have watched them do that its like they are clearing the way letting everyone know that they are coming through. Must be a good year for plovers in Tassie because Im seeing so many nesting.
Im amazed at some of the things people are worried about and have written on this website.
Ive grown up with Plovers and started observing (annoying) them from a very young age. Ive recently moved house and have the pleasure of watching a pair of plovers nesting right now outside my loungeroom window. Ive taken my son to see the eggs. The chicks will hatch this week and i will show him them as well. I think its important to show my son that although there is lots of misinformation about plovers they are magnificent birds and actually dont hurt you. I have put myself in their way more times than most and have only ever been brushed by a wing tip once or twice because i was pushing my luck.
The spur is located quite close to the body of the bird (so is useless as a “spear” when swooping as suggested in another post. It is there as a visible deterent used when they need to deter predators using some on ground antics because the predators have ignored the swooping and have ventured too close.
If theres Plovers in your area, do what you would normally do and keep walking. If you still dont like it, then dont go there for a few weeks till they leave.
Adam, I understand what you’re saying, but sometimes “keep walking” isn’t an option.
When I made my comment here a couple of years ago, it was after my son’s cricket match turned to chaos with plovers swooping the kids for a few hours. It’s not possible to just pick up and move a game of cricket.
Solutions aren’t always as simple as we’d like, and one solution doesn’t fit all situations.
Thanks for the helpful comments anyway 🙂
I have been swooped by a fair few plovers but yesterday i was no where near it’s nest and it still started swooping? What’s with that? :/
Somewhere near by Cassidy was there chick they would have swooped to get u to move away. I have never observed a plover swooping when they are sitting on eggs..
Two pairs I have been watching have hatched their chicks I think one pair have one chick and I saw one at the other spot but the adult was sitting on the nest so she may still be on an egg or another chick.. the chicks are so tiny… Fingers crossed they survive the coming weeks…
We’ve had Plovers for a few weeks now. They drive me insane. I’m on 10 acres and they have claimed the WHOLE lot, well before they laid eggs. I couldnt do a thing without my dogs and I being swooped over and over again which made life tough since I have horses to care for every day. Yesterday, their chicks hatched and now they are even worse. They will dive bomb me relentlessly. I can barely do anything outside because they both take turns immediately, one after the other, so that I literally dont even have 5 seconds in between swoops. Will they leave soon or am I stuck with them since the property is quite large?
If u can avoid the area they are in with the chicks they shouldnt swoop. Its normally if u are close to the eggs or the chicks they swoop. They normally make a noise and if u watch u will see the chick moving away they are warning the chick of your presence. If u are heading towards the chick they will swoop. When they are swooping they are drawing u away from the chick or eggs. They will venture away but may come back at night to sleep.
Hi I know there are lots of personal stories of the plovers on this site but I would really love it if someone could answer how long they are with their parents before they fly off? I have been watching a little family (babies hatched a month ago) in the worst possible nesting spot (very small park between two very busy roads) and today just by chance I was there checking on them I had to tell some people to rack off as they were chasing the babies with their dogs (dropkicks). I actually noticed that there was one less baby : ( today. Would love to see them grown up and fly off for their own sakes as they are in a really awful spot! Not sure if I should call a ranger or not. Thanks : )
Hi yes lots of stories. Well heres another one in a percular place. There are a pair of plovers nesting on the roof of the Royal Brisbane Hospital on the Sixth (6th) Floor. My mum passes these plovers everyday on her way to have radiation and chemo she stops and observes these amazing birds. She is wondering how long the plovers actually nest for. She is also wondering how they will get off the roof. Can anyone help. At least this pair of plovers has given someone a bit of pleasure.. Thanks
From what I remember from last year Catherine the chick was a good size before it started to fly. Was quite funny watching them fly off. Possibly about 8 weeks… was the size of a small adult sized plover. But I also remember a family and their numbers would decrease each time I saw them. U can tell the young plovers when they are the size of their parents by the fluffy feathers on the top of their head.. they stick up. I could always tell the young even tho the same size of the parents by this. The chicks even tho the same size as the parents still stay with them for a while. The ones I saw were nearly a yr perhaps about 9mths or so.
I dont know why they nest nearly busy roads.
The chick around the road only lasted about 9 days. Havent seen it since last week. The adult plovers will take on car swooping though if its near the chick. I saw this lots last yr on our dirt road I cant believe the adults didnt get hit.
Ive seen over 30 plovers and chicks on a shopping centre roof. They must learn to fly on the roof to get off it. I wondered the same. Pleased your Mum is enjoying watching them. They are amazing to watch. They sit on the eggs for about 4-5 weeks.
Thanks so much for getting back to me Suzanne. Sadly though two days after I wrote my first post I went to check on my birds in the morning and there was only one adult left making calls to see where its mate and babies were. They did this for about an hour and then just flew off. I think some cats or dogs must have got the others during the night. Was very sad. I had really taken these guys under my wing (no pun intended). Its a shame they had made it a whole month without incident for it to end so badly.
Plovers keep nesting on our flat roof every year and on our neighbour’s. They drive everyone crazy with their squawking (through the night) and they terrify all the kids with their super aggressive, constant swooping. I’m with Tom. I love nature and wildlife but people have a right to protect their sanity and their children and should be free to move around their backyard. I admire the Plover’s courage and their desire to protect their own children, but they are a pain. If a neighbour has an aggressive dog that keeps visiting your backyard you can complain first to the neighbour, then to Council. If a snake is in your backyard it’s reasonable to kill it. People are now no longer allowed to smoke in restaurants. Legislate against the Plover!!!
I appreciate your concerns, but I don’t take much notice of people who hide behind a pseudonym.
We have had a pair of Plovers live over the road from us for a few years now & I have grown fond of their quirky behaviour. They always disappear over winter, where do they go? We are in suburban Melbourne. This is the first year they have swooped anyone walking past the nest which is only a couple of metres from the road & right in the front garden bed (which has no plants) of our neighbour in full view of everyone & out in the weather, funny birds! We have a few people out walking with their dogs & for some reason the human will stop walking while they are being swooped, I don’t know who’s sillier, the humans who stay in the birds swooping zone or the birds for nesting so close to danger!
Hi Suzi, Masked lapwings (plovers) are nomadic and semi migratory. They are probably moving to more reliable food sources during winter. Thanks for your observations.
I have been watching a plover bring 3 chicks to our front lawn every night for the last 3 nights. It seems strange she ‘sleeps’ with them in an open grassed area with no cover at all. She takes them away for the day, (we have a grass reserve opposite our house) then brings them back at night. Almost lost one while crossing the road 2 nights ago!
I woke to a commotion at 5am this morning, & there was a fox on the front lawn. Sadly I don’t think she will be back tonight, I don’t think the chicks would have been quick enough to get away.
Thanks for your comments Renae. Sadly foxes and cats have accounted for the disappearance of many of our Australian birds, mammals and reptiles over recent decades.
Mmm, … Plovers! Certainly not an attractive bird and yes, that nauseating swawk is at best irritating (even if it isn’t outside your bedroom window at 2.00 am in the morning). But alas they are a joy to stir up in the nesting season.
What a delight to observe their masterful aerobatics when swooping (can’t say I’m that brave with Maggies but plovers are all bluff). Love them or hate them, Brizzie’s suburbs wouldn’t seem like home without them.
[…] down and they have spurs attached to the end of their wings so they can potentially scratch you! http://trevorsbirding.com/pesky-plovers-dealing-with-swooping-birds/ We haven’t been attacked yet but we’ve had quite a few scares where we scream and run as […]
[…] them – these birds have leg spurs and they’re not afraid to use them. Read the 241 comments on this thread and tell me they’re harmless. Read some of the tips here: “avoid making eye contact or staring […]