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"Vicious, Aggressive Bird Stalks Cyclist": The Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen) in the News

By Kitty van Vuuren, Scott O' Keefe, Darryl N. Jones

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The Australian Magpie ( Cracticus tibicen ) is a common bird found in urban Australian environments where its nest defense behavior during spring brings it into conflict with humans. This article explores the role of print media in covering this conflict. Leximancer software was used to analyze newspaper reports about the Australian Magpie from a sample of 634 news stories, letters-to-the editor and opinion pieces, published in newspapers from around Australia between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2014. The results confirm that stories about these birds are primarily published in the daily regional and weekly suburban press, and that the dominant story frame concerns the risk of “swooping” behavior to cyclists and pedestrians from birds protecting their nests during the spring breeding season. The most prominent sources used by journalists are local and state government representatives, as well as members of the public. The results show that the “swooping season” has become a normal part of the annual news cycle for these publications, with the implication that discourse surrounding the Australian Magpie predominantly concerns the risk these birds pose to humans, and ignores their decline in non-urban environments.


Katie Carroll

Date 2016
Publication Title Animals
Volume 6
Issue 5
Pages 14
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani6050029
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Australia
  4. Birds
  5. Cities and towns
  6. Ecology
  7. human-animal conflict
  8. human-wildlife interactions
  9. Media
  10. urban areas
  11. urbanization
  12. Wild animals
  13. wildlife