As if beleaguered Victorians didn’t have enough to worry about, it seems that masks required to help fight the deadly pandemic might accidentally fuel another battle.
One birdlife expert has speculated that the looming swooping season might be worse than usual in the southern state because magpies will find it harder to recognise people.
Victorians are required to wear masks as part of measures designed to quell the coronavirus outbreak that is sweeping the state.
Already, there have been complaints from some about difficulty breathing or fogged-up glasses. But now there’s another likely downside.
“There is a chance, because what we do know is magpies can recognise individual people,” Birdlife Australia’s Sean Dooley told Melbourne radio 3AW on Tuesday.
“If you think a magpie has it in for you, you’re probably right.
“Research has shown magpies can recognise up to at least 100 different people and we think the main factor is facial recognition.
“They tend to swoop the people they see as a threat.”
Swooping season reaches its peak in September-October, as magpies breed and guard their nests.
The birds are renowned for repeatedly targeting individuals they perceive as threats.
While some people come under constant aerial attack, others are never harassed.
“What we’re really fascinated with is whether, especially in Melbourne in lockdown … is if you’re wearing a mask, they may not be able to recognise you,” Mr Dooley said.