‘Swooper’ App Shields Your Noggin From Murderous Magpies

‘Swooper’ App Shields Your Noggin From Murderous Magpies

Each spring during breeding season, Australia’s magpie population declares war on humans — leading to a flurry of surprise attacks on unsuspecting cyclists and pedestrians. If the idea of getting pecked sets your heart racing, this iPhone app from a Lifehacker reader should help to reduce your stress levels.

Magpie picture from Shutterstock

Lifehacker reader ‘hoopiest35’ wrote in to tell us about his Swooper app for iOS devices. As its name implies, the Swooper app is designed to protect you from territorial magpies via an interactive map of local swooping hotspots.

Here’s hoopiest35 on the creation of his app:

I have been swooped regularly over the years. I always thought it was the colour of my hair (red-ish). Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! I’d wear a hat — still get swooped. Wear a bike helmet – still get swooped. I get swooped no matter what. It is a terrifying and dangerous experience especially when I’m riding. [clear] [clear] I think the best way to stop getting swooped is to avoid the birds if possible, and with that in mind, I had an app developed. It’s called SWOOPERS (obviously) and it’s an interactive app that allows people to upload information such as swooping hotspots. The app also comes with a real time map that pinpoints swooping locations. [clear] [clear] The app has only just come online so the number of locations will not be great, but to see what the app is capable of, have a look at the map of Bendigo, VIC — lots of swooping hotspots have been pin-pointed. As the app is interactive, the more people who use it, the more people will benefit.

Swoop sites are shown on the app’s map as green pins — you can click on each pin to reveal the location, date recorded and any comments left by the reporter. You can also add your own swooping sites by clicking on the ‘report a sighting’ tab.

We don’t normally endorse shameless reader plugs, but the Swooper app does seem like a useful tool to ward against magpie attacks this spring — and as hoopiest35 points out, the more people who know about the app, the more effective it will be.

You can check out the app for yourself by downloading it from the App Store.

Have you ever been injured by a magpie? What tricks do you use to lessen the chances of getting pecked? Share your anecdotes and survival tips in the comments section below.

See also: How To Survive Magpie Swooping Season | How Are You Dealing With Swooping Magpies This Spring?


  • Jesus Christ people just hold up a stick FFS… Regularly looking back also stops the little bastards in their tracks..! Their just friggin birds…

    • Dude! They have declared war, we need all the help we can get!
      But seriously its not too hard but good to know that technology is there to help me… and make me look like an idiot at the same time!

      • These tricks only work for some magpies. They’re all different. What they do and don’t swoop on differs. What they do and don’t attack differs. What does and doesn’t deter them differs. There’s no magic trick to it other than avoiding known swooping areas or covering and protecting your entire upper body.

    • Wrong, on many levels.

      The main level you’re wrong on though, is that every magpie is different. Some only swoop walkers, some only swoop joggers, some only swoop cyclists, some only swoop people with blonde hair, etc etc and finally … some swoop anything and everything.

      just hold up a stick FFS

      This only deters the certain magpies that don’t like the idea of coming into contact with it. Other more aggressive magpies don’t care and will keep coming in anyway.

      Regularly looking back also stops the little bastards in their tracks..!

      Again, looking back, putting a mask on your head, putting eyes on your hat/helmet only work for SOME magpies, not all.

      Their just friggin birds…


      Also, they are birds that not only swoop, but SOME also attack. Those beaks can be quite viscous, opening up wounds on backs, shoulders, necks, ears, faces, and most worrying, even on eyes. There was a story recently on a cycling forum I visit talking about a young 5yo girl who would now never see clearly again due to a magpie pecking at and damaging her eyes.

      A five year old girl, who will never see clearly.

      They’re not “just” birds. They’re birds that can and in some cases DO attack, can and in some cases DO cause permanent worrying injury.

      • Been around them all my life. Only ever got swooped once on a bike when I was a kid. Since then I’ve just picked up a stick to wave above my head and stayed vigilant, never been hit since. So that’s a lot of birds that didn’t make contact because of some very basic actions. They’re smart enough to know that you aren’t scared of them and give it up.! I’ve even returned on the same path and the little buggers remember me and don’t even bother…!!
        Oh Yeah, and thanks for the Grammar lesson, not.!!

        • So you’re saying your personal anecdote trumps data from dozens if not hundreds of other people combined, as well as numerous controlled studies into the subject? Somehow I think not.

          • Yes.. that and common sense..!
            Look, if you want to use a phone app and it works for you then fine, I just think my way is more practical, it works, and you don’t need to be navigating streets to avoid them. Thats all…!

        • Sounds like a tiger repelling rock.

          This rock repels tigers.
          Prove it!
          Do you see any tigers around here?

          Your experience is just as likely to have been due to random chance.

        • If that’s all you took from my post, then you really need to re-read it. The fixing of the usage of the wrong word (note: NOT a spelling correction but a correction of the completely wrong word) was only one miniscule barely-relevant part of my post added in as a favour to the person to let them know about the error.

          The vast majority of it, if you bother to look, was actually an attempt at pointing out illogical thinking that makes him think an anecdote trumps data, when the data actually contradicts his little anecdote.

          He has made it clear now he refuses to pay attention to reality and would prefer to just apply how things work in his one small little corner of the world to the entire world.

          Also, I do not feel the personal attacks are really appropriate. What you’re doing here is an ad-hominem, attacking the person rather than the argument. If you cannot attack the argument then I’ll take that as concession of the argument. Thank you, and have a nice day.

          • Yeah if you’ve read any of my posts and I know you have, you’d know that I know the difference between those words, it was just an oversight and only a grammar troll would bother. Plus I would hardly call fifty years of experience anecdotal dude..! Telling me that my experience is not valid is just plain rude. You are obviously over reacting to the whole thing, so just let it go cos I’m done with this silliness…

          • Wow, that’s exactly what you do to other people. Learn to take it as well as you can dish it out.

          • Mind my own business on this public forum?

            So I shouldn’t ever bring up things that you’ve posted before?

  • This seems almost like a news story from Today Tonight got out of control..

    I grew up in dense bushland, inhabited by magpies, walked everywhere, never ever had a problem. I mean i’ve heard of a few people ‘getting swooped’ but no major harm has ever actually come to them, and in the back of my mind I keep questioning if it’s not some behaviour or personal factor that causes them to get swooped.

    It just doesn’t seem like something worthy of maintaining a network of vigilant.. swoop watchers… *shrug*..

    • Yep.. the little buggers can tell if you’re scared of ’em and they go for the ones who are…! 🙂

  • Thought I’d let you know we have been testing for the last two years and may have come up with a very simple app to stop the magpies from swooping, we’ll launch it in the next few days.

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