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Why experts fear magpie swooping season may be worse than usual this year

Peak magpie swooping season hits in a few weeks, and there are concerns mandatory mask-wearing will lead to an increase in swoopings this year.

Magpies can recognise 100 individual people and researchers believe they do this through facial recognition, prompting concerns that masks may lead to additional swoopings.

National public affairs manager at Birdlife Australia, Sean Dooley, says magpies may swoop people in masks who they would usually recognise as friendly.

“A magpie may know you and know that you’re okay, but when you’re wearing a mask they may not be able to recognise you,” he told Neil Mitchell.

Research in Queensland has shown magpies swoop people wearing masks which they associate with bad experiences.

“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,” Mr Dooley said.

“It might be the colour of the mask that makes them go for you.”

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