Magpies only swoop in an effort to protect their young.
Magpies only swoop in an effort to protect their young.

Magpies have us ducking for cover

THERE’S a touch of spring creeping into the air once again which means it’s time for those black and white bombers, the scourge of posties everywhere, the native magpie, to swoop back into action for another season.

Humans usually happily co-exist with these fine feathered flyers for the vast majority of the year but in the six to eight weeks of late winter and early spring the truce is broken, battle-lines are drawn and people become fair game for the birds.

According to a statement from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, magpies are only doing what comes naturally and protecting their young from what they see as a threat.

“People walking past may be seen as ‘invaders’ of the territory, prompting the magpies to fly low and fast over the person, clacking their bills as they pass overhead,” the statement said.

“The experience of a magpie attack can be quite alarming but it is usually only a warning; only occasionally will a bird actually strike the intruder on the head with its beak or claws.”

The statement also outlined several steps people could take to make themselves less of a target during the swooping season, such as wearing head wear, walking in groups or carrying an umbrella. Although it might seem tempting for people to take matters into their own hands, according to the statement, magpies are a protected species and it is illegal for people to harm them, collect their eggs or damage their nests.

If magpies in a particular area are causing concern, people are encouraged to contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service so that warning signs can be erected.

Ways to stop swooping

If swooped by a magpie, stay calm and move out of its territory; once you’re away from the nest area, swooping will stop.

Get off your bike and walk; fast-moving bicycles infuriate magpies. If you must ride, attach a traffic flag to your bike so magpies can’t fly too low.

Hats, helmets and sunglasses protect heads, faces and eyes.

Open umbrellas prevent swooping magpies from getting too close.

Walk in the company of others, you will be less of a target.


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