Spring has arrived, and reports of swooping magpies are already coming in from Sans Souci, Ramsgate, Mascot and Botany.
Residents should be aware of magpies during spring (1 September to 30 November), when they become very protective of their chicks and can swoop on people passing their nests.
Magpies are not usually aggressive, but for four to six weeks during nesting they often defend their territory vigorously.
People walking past may be seen as 'invaders' of the territory, prompting the magpies to fly low and fast over the person, clacking their beaks as they pass overhead.
This swooping is usually simply a bluff. However, sometimes people can receive minor head injuries because of swooping magpies.
The protective behaviour lasts only a few weeks.
For the rest of the year the magpie is peaceful and valuable as an insect eater, renowned for its pleasant warbling.
There are a few things that people can do to reduce risks:
walk away from the area and warn others about risky locations
don’t provoke the birds
- wear a hat or helmet to protect your head
- hold an umbrella or stick above your head to deter attacks but don’t swing it at the magpie as this will only provoke it to attack
- hurry past nesting sites confidently and quickly or better still, avoid nesting sites
- if on a bike, dismount to avoid falling off, and move away quickly.
Magpies are a protected species and it is against the law to kill them, collect their eggs, or harm their young.
If you feel a magpie is a risk to public safety that cannot be adequately mitigated by these measures report the matter to National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) on 1300 072 757.