Watch out, Magpies about

Using cable ties on helmets are popular with cyclists during magpie season - Image - Tony Wills - Creative Commons
Using cable ties on helmets are popular with cyclists during magpie swooping season – Image – Tony Wills – Creative Commons

The sudden swooping of birds from above means its magpie nesting season.
From July to November each year, magpies will often target pedestrians, cyclists or even people on motorcycles by swooping. Environment Portfolio Councillor Tony Wellington said it was important for local residents to take care and be patient during this period.
“When magpies swoop, they aren’t trying to terrorize or injure us, they’re simply defending the eggs in their nests,” he said.
“Once these eggs hatch and their young are able to fly – typically after six weeks – this defensive behavior stops.
“Defensive behavior is instinctive in all magpies, but for some it is learned as a result of a past experience where a person has done something to threaten its nest.
“So while it can be a bit frightening to be on the receiving end of a swooping magpie, it’s important to remember that trying to fight back will often make a magpie defend its nest more aggressively.”
Residents can take a number of simple steps to better protect themselves during magpie nesting season:

  • Avoid areas where a nesting magpie is swooping
  • Wear a hat or hold an umbrella or school bag over your head
  • Dismount your bike and walk quickly through the area
  • Where possible, walk in groups or move quickly through the area but don’t run
  • Don’t fight back – throwing sticks at magpies will only make it defend its nest more aggressively next time
  • Contact council to put up warning signage.