Magpie Swooping
Magpie Swooping

Want to avoid magpie attacks? Know your local menace

MAGPIE swooping season has arrived, with more than 1000 attacks already reported nationwide this year.

Reports of attacks have flooded into the monitoring website Magpie Alert, with a new spike expected as breeding season sets in.

But University of New England emeritus Professor Gisela Kaplan, who has researched birds for more than 25 years, said there is a way to avoid an attack - get to know a local bird.

Cook Park’s problem Magpie preparing to take flight. Picture: John Grainger
Cook Park’s problem Magpie preparing to take flight. Picture: John Grainger

"People need to be nice to their local bird, in a way they're like people - how would you react if something threw something at you, or chased you?" she said.


"Birds only swoop when they're protective, when they have established a risk. If you look at the bird and show you are not a threat it will remember your face and not attack you."


He said there were problems when large crowds or people wearing helmets or masks appeared "as the bird does not know who or what they are".

Swooping season has arrived across Sydney and lasts for about five weeks. Picture: Liam Kidston
Swooping season has arrived across Sydney and lasts for about five weeks. Picture: Liam Kidston


Prof Kaplan recommended befriending magpies by making eye contact and allowing the birds to "learn" your face.

Magpie Alert reveals there are swooping hot spots in Randwick, Ramsgate and Glenwood.
In September birds lay their eggs with this kickstarting the protective instincts of male magpies. The swooping season lasts for about five weeks.
The Daily Telegraph found a menacing magpie at Cook Park in Ramsgate Beach, north of Cronulla, which continually swooped.

The Department of Environment says particularly aggressive magpies should be reported to local council.

Safety tips include staying more than 100m away, wearing sunglasses and hold large items above your head to deter the bird.


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