Magpie swooping season has begun

Magpie breeding season is here, and we remind the community to take precautions around places where magpies and other swooping birds nest.

Though they are usually not aggressive, native birds such as Australian magpies, peewees (magpie-larks), butcher birds and masked lapwings (plovers) become highly protective and even aggressive during the breeding season if they feel their eggs, nest and young are being threatened.

Though it can be frightening, swooping is a natural instinct for native birds including magpies and trying to scare them off may lead to more sustained swooping behaviour.

Nesting season starts as the days become warmer toward the end of winter and extends until around the end of Spring.

Tips for staying safe during swooping season include:

  • Avoid the nesting area during swooping season. Try taking a detour by walking or riding to your destination via a different route during this time.
  • Cyclists should always wear a helmet, and they can provide double protection during the swooping season. Try dismounting and walking your bike past a swoop area as cyclists seem to be seen as a particular threat by magpies – swooping of cyclists tends to start about twice the distance from a nest than it does for pedestrians!
  • Travel in a group. Usually birds 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.
  • Holding a stick or umbrella over your head may deter some birds from swooping.
  • Don’t ever disturb or harass the magpies in your neighbourhood – they seem to remember people and tend to swoop anyone they consider a threat.
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