Spring is breeding season for Australian magpies. From August to November, magpies may swoop people who come within 100 metres of their nesting site.

Why do magpies swoop us?

Magpies swoop to protect their nests. This is normal defensive behaviour, as the adult birds are trying to protect their eggs or newly hatched young in the nest. The swooping usually lasts about six weeks and almost always stops when the young leave the nest.

Unfortunately, there is little that Council can do to prevent magpies swooping but there are a few things you can do to stay safe around them.

Tips for staying safe around swooping magpies

  • Stay clear of magpie nesting sites and, if possible, take an alternative route.
  • If you must pass the nesting site, wear sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat to protect your head and eyes, or consider carrying an open umbrella.
  • Don't approach a young magpie as this may increase swooping behaviour.
  • If a bird swoops while you are cycling, get off your bike and walk.
  • Some cyclists successfully repel magpies by attaching zip ties to their helmets.
  • Magpies appear to have good memories and have been known to attack the same people every breeding season. If a magpie has attacked you in the past, it may be a good idea to use an alternative route in spring.

It is important to remember magpies are a protected species under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NSW). It is illegal to collect magpie eggs or harm adult or young birds.

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