How to avoid being swooped by a magpie

It’s this time of year that magpies are out in force protecting their chicks. Here’s how to avoid being swooped.

Hopefully you've never experienced the pure terror of an unexpected whoosh of air followed by a slap on the back of the head – often the only warnings of a magpie attack.

Magpies swoop to scare away threats to their newly-hatched chicks, and the good news is this behaviour only lasts about six weeks.

So, what can you do to make it through the nesting season unscathed?

The best way to avoid being swooped is to change your route. Magpies only swoop within 50 metres of their nests so stay away from the area if you can.

If you can’t change your route, try these tips:

  • Carry an open umbrella or wear sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat to protect your head, neck and eyes.
  • Travel in groups if possible – swooping birds usually target individuals.
  • Avoid making eye contact with magpies.
  • Walk, don’t run past their nests.
  • Don’t wave your arms or shout at the birds, this just confirms you are a threat.
  • If you ride a bike, walk it past the nest or attach a flag that is taller than your head to the back of your bike.
  • If you know of a swooping magpie, put up a sign to warn others in the area.
  • Keep track of recent attacks and record your own on Magpie Alert!

This story was originally posted in August 2015.

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