The Birds: Australian style
November 21, 2012 4:54 PM   Subscribe

How long after baby birds leave the nest until the parent birds stop being arseholes? Is there any way to convey the message, "move along now, no loitering" to a bunch of currawongs?

Two currawongs have been tending a nest in my garden. They have been swooping if you get too close to "their" tree. Two days ago the fledglings finally left the nest and have been flying around the garden and the neighbours' gardens. But their parents' swooping behaviour has gotten out of control. I am scared to go into my own garden, and completely unable to spend prolonged time out there gardening or relaxing. I would like to have a BBQ next weekend, but I couldn't possibly invite friends over to experience this.

The birds swoop immediately you leave the house, and then over and over again the whole time you are outside, whether near the nest/fledglings or not. They get close enough that their claws brush my hair, and make loud clicking sounds that scare me out of my skin if I don't see them coming.

How long until they will move on or become less aggressive, now that the baby birds have left the nest? They aren't going to stay forever, are they? And is there anything I can do to discourage them from coming back next year?
posted by lollusc to Pets & Animals (5 answers total)
When the fledglings are no longer being fed by the parents, they will probably calm down. How long that take varies by species. It might be a couple of weeks.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 6:08 PM on November 21, 2012

Currawongs can be arseholes right through the breeding season, but they'll typically calm down as soon as the fledglings leave the area. Yours haven't, and it's not unusual for them to take a month or more from leaving the nest to actually leaving. You'll know it's about to happen when the young start to sound like currawongs, rather than just cawing and squarking. If they only left the nest in the last few days, I wouldn't expect them to leave until at least early December.

You could possibly get them declared as 'a risk to public safety' - it varies a bit from state to state & region to region, but one of the potential criteria is "constantly swoops, or attacks the head or face in a front or backyard, not allowing residents to safely leave or enter the premises". But be aware that, for abundant species like the pied currawong (guessing from your area that's what it is), NPWS or your council will usually destroy them rather than attempting relocation.
posted by Pinback at 6:21 PM on November 21, 2012

A month or more??? Bloody hell.

I think I would feel really bad if the council destroyed them, too, so I'm not ready to try that route, but it's good to know it's there as a last resort.
posted by lollusc at 6:25 PM on November 21, 2012

Start feeding them.

Generally it's not advisable to feed wildlife, but when it comes to aggressive birds in your yard, I tend to be a bit more relaxed about it. They'll eat just about anything, but a bit of bacon will be a good place to start, or any other meat scraps. Chicken's pretty good too, especially skin. Remember, they eat nestlings of other species, so it's no more cannibalism than you eating other mammals.

Start by putting scraps on a fence or whatever as close as you can comfortably manage, and move it forwards with time. My partner also does a little mimic of their happier trills, so if you can manage that too it will help.

It won't take long at all for them to stop seeing you as a threat and start seeing you as a food source.

I've had great success with this tactic when faced with aggro magpies, to the point when they bring the fledgelings to meet me when they're on the wing.
posted by Jilder at 11:35 PM on November 21, 2012 [6 favorites]

Another vote for feeding them. Basically, make friends with them! I've had great success with feeding both magpies and currawongs grated cheese or minced meat. Both these bird species are extremely intelligent and it probably won't take long until the are literally eating out of your hand.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 3:42 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

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