Spring is the season of rebirth, but it’s also the season of swooping magpies. Here’s how you can protect yourself….
Spring is the season of rebirth, but it’s also the season of swooping magpies. Here’s how you can protect yourself.
A warmer end to winter across the nation has prompted magpies to begin their swooping season, with cyclists and pedestrians alike being urged to take precautions to avoid the wrath of the swoopers.
While magpie breeding season traditionally starts as the days become warmer toward the end of winter, and extends until the end of spring, some incidents can occur earlier.
Reports of swooping have begun to trickle in from across the country, with attacks on cyclists and walkers reported in Rosslyn Park (South Australia), Wardell (NSW) and Yeronga (Queensland) just on Monday alone, according to magpiealert.com.
A Brisbane father reported a “very aggressive attack on myself and my daughter while driving” on Sunday morning.
“I was swooped a minimum of seven times and my daughter three times. I had to yell at it each time it came in for an attack,” he said.
A man from East Melbourne earlier this month reported an eye injury after he was “suddenly swooped” while waiting at pedestrian lights on the corner of Bourke and Spring streets.
“I was treated for a corneal abrasion at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital nearby. Thanks ever so much to hospital staff for excellent care,” Tony C wrote.
Behavioural ecologist Darryl Jones, from Griffith University, said only about 10 per cent of magpies swoop, and only the males.
“Swooping season lasts for as long as there are chicks in nests … So from about now when the very first pairs will start to breed and stretch off into the distance,” he said.
“Some will lose nests or chicks and will start again … and some will have another two nests during the year, so while there may be some swooping in late July continuing into November, the absolute majority will be in September/October.”
HOW TO AVOID AN ATTACK
- Avoid the nesting area – walk or ride via a different route during breeding season.
- Cyclists should always wear a helmet but can offer additional protection against swooping birds during nesting season.
- Travel in a group as birds usually swoop individuals.
- Do not panic and run, it can encourage a swooping bird to continue its attack.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses in areas where there are swooping concerns.
- Hold a stick or umbrella over your head.
- Don’t disturb or harass magpies – they tend to remember a face and will swoop anyone they consider a threat.