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Swooping in the Suburbs; Parental Defence of an Abundant Aggressive Urban Bird against Humans
Centre for Integrative Ecology, Faculty of Science, Engineering and the Built Environment, Deakin University, 75 Pigdons Rd., Waurn Ponds, VIC 3216, Australia
BirdLife Australia, Suite 2-05, The Green Building, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton, VIC 3052, Australia
Research Department, Phillip Island Nature Parks, P.O. Box 97, Cowes, Phillip Island, VIC 3922, Australia
Centre for Integrative Ecology, Faculty of Science, Engineering and the Built Environment, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC 3125, Australia
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 June 2013; in revised form: 5 August 2013 / Accepted: 7 August 2013 / Published: 13 August 2013
Simple Summary: We studied the defensive behaviour of 94 pairs of nesting Masked Lapwings, Vanellus miles, in response to two types of human stimuli: a pedestrian and a person pushing a lawn mower. We also examined the effectiveness of a commonly promoted deterrent to swooping (the presence of mock eyes placed on the back of a person’s head) for each stimulus type. Masked Lapwings responded more aggressively to a person pushing a lawn mower compared with pedestrians. Birds also remained closer to the nest in the presence of a lawn mower. The presence of eye stickers on the back of a pedestrian’s head decreased swooping behaviour; however, the presence of eye stickers worn by a person pushing a lawn mower increased swooping behaviour.
Abstract: Masked Lapwings, Vanellus miles, often come into ‘conflict’ with humans, because they often breed in close proximity to humans and actively defend their ground nests through aggressive behaviour, which typically involves swooping. This study examined whether defensive responses differed when nesting birds were confronted with different human stimuli (‘pedestrian alone’ vs. ‘person pushing a lawn mower’ approaches to nests) and tested the effectiveness of a commonly used deterrent (mock eyes positioned on the top or back of a person’s head) on the defensive response. Masked Lapwings did not swoop closer to a person with a lawn mower compared with a pedestrian, but flushed closer and remained closer to the nest in the presence of a lawn mower. The presence of eye stickers decreased (pedestrians) and increased (lawn mowers) swooping behaviour. Masked Lapwings can discriminate between different human activities and adjust their defensive behaviour accordingly. We also conclude that the use of eye stickers is an effective method to mitigate the human-lapwing ‘conflict’ in some, but not all, circumstances.
Keywords: parental defence; human disturbance; swooping; human-wildlife conflict; hatching success
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Lees, D.; Sherman, C.D.H.; Maguire, G.S.; Dann, P.; Cardilini, A.P.A.; Weston, M.A. Swooping in the Suburbs; Parental Defence of an Abundant Aggressive Urban Bird against Humans. Animals 2013, 3, 754-766.
Lees D, Sherman CDH, Maguire GS, Dann P, Cardilini APA, Weston MA. Swooping in the Suburbs; Parental Defence of an Abundant Aggressive Urban Bird against Humans. Animals. 2013; 3(3):754-766.
Lees, Daniel; Sherman, Craig D.H.; Maguire, Grainne S.; Dann, Peter; Cardilini, Adam P.A.; Weston, Michael A. 2013. "Swooping in the Suburbs; Parental Defence of an Abundant Aggressive Urban Bird against Humans." Animals 3, no. 3: 754-766.