Magpies protect their young during the swooping season by attacking any potential predator. Unfortunately, this behaviour can lead to attacks on humans who may unwittingly get too close to the nest. Although most attacks are harmless, there have been a few cases where magpies have injured people. Knowing when and how to avoid being attacked by a magpie is essential during the swooping season.
There are several different kinds of birds that swoop. The masked lapwing, butcher bird, and kookaburra are three of the most common. Magpies are usually the birds that cause the most concern. However, any swooping bird can be harmful to humans if they choose to attack.
A magpie attack can be very unnerving whether or not any physical harm occurs. It’s better to take action to avoid drawing the attention of magpies during nesting season rather than provoke an attack. So, what can be done to Avoid Magpie attacks this swooping season?
When to be especially cautious around magpies
For most of the year, magpies are gentle and friendly and may even pop into your house in search of food. Magpies are very intelligent and full of character. They quickly learn if they are in a safe area and are unlikely to be harmed by people. When this happens, it’s fascinating to watch them and their adventures in your backyard and listen to their melodious calls. The Magpies’ appetite for insects in your lawn will make them excellent backyard friends as they can help reduce your insect population naturally.
Magpies can recognise faces and form powerful friendships with certain people. In the same manner, they may recall a negative experience with an individual and will not tolerate their presence.
Most magpies don’t swoop, and only 12% of males become aggressive. Females don’t tend to swoop at all as they are busy nesting. So what causes some magpies to swoop?
Why do they swoop
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service recommends patience and understanding during swooping season, remembering that the birds are simply trying to protect their young. Like most parents, birds are protective over their young. Babies and small children need extra protection as they are so vulnerable. Birds have the same natural instincts to protect their eggs and hatchlings from predators.
An innocent walk through a park for a human can seem terrifying to a bird. What the magpie sees is giants stomping into their territory, looking for food. The unwitting individual may not have even seen the magpie or its nest, but for sure, the magpie has seen them and identified them as a threat. In comparison with a small bird, even a child seems a huge adversary. In the birds’ mind, it must use whatever it has at its disposal to remove the threat using its beak, claws, wings and speed.
What to do if you encounter a magpie during swooping season
If it’s possible to avoid the area altogether, this will avoid unnecessary distress to both yourself and the magpies. It may also be better to travel in groups as magpies tend to attack lone travellers rather than a group. Some recommend drawing eyes on the back of a hat or wearing sunglasses the wrong way round as magpies are less likely to attack if you look at them directly. Carrying a stick or umbrella above the head may ward off an attack but be careful not to wave it around as it could provoke an attack.
The NSW NPWS recommends the following:
- Move quickly, but be careful not to run
- Bike riders should dismount as they walk through the magpie’s territory.
- Be sure to wear sunglasses or glasses and keep your eyes safe.
- Stand to face the magpie or its nest as you move away.
- Use an umbrella, hat or helmet to protect your head
Pesky Bird or Pest Bird
These pesky birds can be quite territorial and can become aggressive when they feel threatened. Magpies tend to congregate in groups which can be anything up to around 100 birds. Many would say that the noise, droppings and attacks make the magpie a bird pest. In fact, Magpies are protected in NSW under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, and it’s illegal to harm them, take eggs from their nests, or kill their young.
Swooping season only lasts for a few weeks each year, but some people find it difficult to cope. There have been cases of baiting and shooting, which carry prison terms and hefty fines, so taking matters into your own hands is not a good idea. In the event that a magpie poses a serious threat, NSW recommends the issue be reported to the local council or National Parks and Wildlife Service to be dealt with by appropriate personnel.
Conclusion: Magpie Attacks and Prevention
If you just want some advice or help with making your property less attractive to Magpies, why not enlist the help of a professional, licensed bird pest controller.
By bird proofing your property before swooping season, you can avoid the problem all together. Even better, if you are thinking of renovating or starting a new build, then you have the option to build bird proofing right into the plans from the word go. Our pre-build specialists can design and implement bird proofing solutions which are practical and durable.
We have over 17 years of experience in bird proofing residential and commercial premises. Our experts are licensed and registered, and we are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We always use top-grade products and the latest technology to ensure that each installation is successful and every job is guaranteed.
Call us today for professional advice on the best bird proofing methods for your property. Our tailored solutions will put an end to your bird problem once and for all. Why wait until magpies have become a problem? Get prepared now and avoid magpie attacks this swooping season.