What to Do If a Magpie Swoops

What to Do If a Magpie Swoops
Image: Getty Images

It’s magpie swooping season in Australia and that means it’s time to learn to dodge and roll. While magpies are a lovable native bird many months of the year, they turn to flying devils during spring.

Why do magpies swoop in spring?

Magpies swoop to defend their young. That’s why it happens between July and November when magpies build nests for their eggs and after their offspring hatch.

According the ACT Government’s fact sheet, it’s the male magpies that tend to be the main culprits, defending their young.

While it’s typically a defence mechanism and swoops tend to only occur when you’re getting to close to their nest, some magpies are known to be extra aggressive due to abuse they’ve faced previously by humans.

While it’s easy to get mad at the majestic devils, it’s important to remember: it’s a magpie’s world, we’re just living in it.

How to avoid getting swooped

Since there aren’t clearly defined boundaries to warn you you’re entering magpie territory, you’ll need to watch for telltale signs.

Trees are an obvious first one. Streets filled with thick tree canopies are a prime location for ‘pies but really, they can set up shop anywhere.

In situations where it’s really unavoidable, the ACT Government offers a few handy tips to avoid getting your mug swooped.

  • walk through the magpie’s territory quickly — don’t run;
  • take a different route next time;
  • protect your head with an umbrella, hat or helmet;
  • wear glasses to protect your eyes;
  • watch the magpies while walking away quickly from the area – magpies are less likely to swoop if you look at them;
  • attach a flag or streamers on a stick to your bike or backpack; and
  • walk your bike through the magpie’s territory — don’t ride.

Otherwise, it’s a case of learning by tragedy. Once an attempted swooping occurs, you’ll know to avoid the area for the next month until the magpies have finished nesting.

It’s just a few months of hell before the magpies return to being our best porch friends.

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