Bird experts fear there is a chance magpies will view people wearing face masks as a threat and swoop at them.
Birdlife Australia’s national public affairs manager, Sean Dooley, said magpies can recognise upwards of 100 people on normal occasions.
But, if they don facemasks, they might be unable to recognise them and view them as a threat.
He added: “Some of the research that was done out of Queensland, the researchers actually put masks on and magpies would only swoop them when they were wearing a certain type of mask because they had done some behaviour that made the magpie fearful for its young that were in its nest.
“So what we’re really fascinated with is, especially in Melbourne in lockdown everyone’s wearing masks, people aren’t out as much but when they are out they’re walking their local neighbourhood and the magpie may know you and know you’re okay.
“But if you’re wearing a mask they may not be able to recognise you.”
When asked whether a person in a black mask bothered them and if it could cause them to target all wearers of the same colour, Mr Dooley said it could happen.
He added: “That’s one of the interesting possibilities. It might be the colour of the mask that makes them go for you.
“I think where the proof of the pudding will be if we start to get reports of people being swooped by magpies for the first time that have never been swooped before, like they know those individual magpies.”
According to bird experts, magpies have started nesting earlier in southern parts of Australia.
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Dr Deb Kelly, from South Australia’s Department of Environment said the early mating season could lead to a double swooping season as magpies re-nest if their young are killed.
Magpie swooping season happened between July and November where the birds spend weeks keeping watch over their nests.
If they feel threatened, they swoop and even attack people if they get to close.
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