19 October 2022

It’s officially spring. And while many will be excited about the warm weather, those who have ever been on the receiving end of a terrifying magpie swoop may be entering the season with a little trepidation.

Spring is also a peak period for injured wildlife on our roads, and the time you’re most likely to spot a helpless baby bird who has fallen from their nest.

But before we kill the sunny mood completely, here’s the good news.

By implementing a few of the tips below, you can conquer common spring wildlife challenges with confidence, keeping yourself and the animals as safe as possible.

Come prepared this swooping season

Birds can be very protective parents, and swooping is the most common way they scare off intruders. 

If a bird is swooping in your area:  

  • Take a slight detour, as most birds will only swoop within a 50-metre range of their nest.  
  • Travel in a group; swooping birds generally target individuals.
  • Wear a brimmed hat, or other headgear, and glasses to help prevent injury.
  • Paint eyes on the back of your headgear. The bird will think that it is being watched and will not swoop.
  • If you ride a bike, walk it through magpie territory or have a flag on the back that’s higher than your head.

If you are swooped by a magpie, stay calm, do not run, and avoid looking towards swooping birds.

Peak trauma season on our roads

Sadly, kangaroos, possums, birds and reptiles are regularly hit by cars. To date this year,  kangaroos have accounted for nearly 90 per cent of RAC WA’s animal collision claims. Around 40 per cent of all animal collisions happen during dawn or dusk.

Tips for drivers:  

  • Stay focussed. Look out for wildlife street signs. If you see one kangaroo,  proceed with caution as they rarely travel alone.
  • Minimise distractions. While using a GPS and making hands-free calls are legal, they are distractions. It’s a good idea to avoid devices in rural areas.
  • Use high beams when driving at night and watch for reflecting animal eyes.
  • If you see an animal on the road in front of you, pressing your horn is normally enough to make the animal back away from the road.
  • If you spot an animal, slow down, do not swerve, and stay in your lane to avoid losing control.

So you found a baby bird, now what? 

Every year, scores of baby birds are taken into care when, in fact, they should have been left where they were. 

Ask yourself, does the bird have feathers? If not, or if it has only fluffy down, then it is a nestling, and needs help straight away, as it cannot keep itself warm.

If the bird has its flight feathers, then it is a fledgling. If it’s bright and responsive, able to perch and spread its wings, you may be able to reunite this bird with its parents.

For advice on reuniting baby birds, or helping injured wildlife on our roads, contact the Wildcare Helpline on (08) 9474 9055.

Also see this helpful information about after-hours assistance for sick and injured animals from WA Wildlife.