Attacks on humans by Australian Magpies (Cracticus tibicen): Territoriality, brood-defence or testosterone?

Warne,RM, Jones,DN and Astheimer,LB 2010, Attacks on humans by Australian Magpies (Cracticus tibicen): Territoriality, brood-defence or testosterone?, Emu : Austral ornithology, vol. 110, no. 4, pp. 332-338, doi: 10.1071/MU10027.

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Title Attacks on humans by Australian Magpies (Cracticus tibicen): Territoriality, brood-defence or testosterone?
Author(s) Warne,RM
Journal name Emu : Austral ornithology
Volume number 110
Issue number 4
Start page 332
End page 338
Total pages 7
Publisher CSIRO
Place of publication Melbourne, Vic.
Publication date 2010-11
ISSN 0158-4197
Keyword(s) Wildlife attacks
Summary Attacks on humans by Australian Magpies (Cracticus tibicen) are a significant human-wildlife conflict in Australia, especially in suburban environments. Remarkably little is known about the phenomenon. In this study, we explored three common hypotheses - territoriality, brood-defence and testosterone - as potential and non-exclusive explanations for aggression directed at people by Magpies living in suburban areas of Brisbane, south-eastern Queensland. The response of 10 pairs of aggressive Magpies to natural levels of human intrusion was compared with that of 10 non-aggressive pairs. Behavioural observations strongly supported the contention that attacks on humans resemble brood-defence and did not support an association with territoriality. The study also found no support for the suggestion that testosterone levels correlated with aggressiveness towards humans: male testosterone peaked immediately before laying and was significantly lower during the maximum period of attacks directed at people. Moreover, there were no differences in the testosterone levels of aggressive and non-aggressive male Magpies. The pattern of testosterone production over a breeding cycle closely resembled that of many other songbirds and appeared not to influence Magpie attacks on humans. © Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union 2010.
Language eng
DOI 10.1071/MU10027
Field of Research 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2010, CSIRO
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Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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