Plover attacks

Masked lapwings or plovers (Vanellus miles miles) will swoop to defend their eggs or young chicks. 

These attacks are seasonal, most often during the breeding season from November to June. Swooping usually stops when the eggs hatch and the chicks can fly. 

Plovers generally nest in a small depression in the ground laying three to four eggs, which take about 28 days to hatch.

It is unusual for plovers to strike and contact is rarely made when they swoop.

What to do if you are swooped

Try to tolerate plovers if swooping is minor or rare, and you don't feel threatened. 

Otherwise if you are swooped you can do any of the following:

  • avoid plovers during breeding season by taking a different route
  • travel in groups plovers tend to swoop individuals
  • wear a hat
  • hold or wave a stick or flag above your head
  • if you are riding a bike get off it and walk through the area
  • put up warning signs for others who may not be aware that there are swooping birds in the area.

You can discourage plovers from nesting in your area by changing the habitat to make it unsuitable for them to breed by letting the grass grow long or by planting shrubs.

What not to do if you are swooped

Do not do any of the following: 

  • stare at a bird when they swoop
  • panic or run as it will encourage a swooping bird to continue its attack as most swooping behaviour is a form of bluffing
  • search for the nest or young
  • remove eggs or damage the nest
  • harass, interfere or throw objects at the birds.

Last updated: 15 February 2016

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