PEST: A magpie in attack mode.
PEST: A magpie in attack mode. Dennis Vincenzi

Do you have a problem with swooping magpies?

ONLY a small proportion of magpies swoop on people and these often have a preference for a few individuals that the birds recognise, or certain types of targets like pedestrians and cyclists.

A magpie will only defend its nest within a 'defence zone' and almost all swoops on people are carried out by male magpies defending their eggs and chicks.

A magpie's defensive behaviour can range from a non-contact swoop with or without beak snapping, through to pecking, dive-bombing and sometimes front-on attacks from the ground.

Some attacks can lead to bloodied ears and cheeks or even eye injuries, so all magpie attacks should be taken seriously.

There are a few techniques that can be used to avoid or minimise the chance of a magpie attack.

The best is to simply avoid the territory where magpies are known to be swooping.

However, if you must enter a 'defence zone', magpies will be less likely to swoop if they are under constant observation, less likely to swoop when being watched.

Wear a hat or helmet or carry an umbrella and if you're swooped, do not crouch in fear or stop and do not throw sticks and stones or yell at a magpie as will likely make it more aggressive next time anyone enters the defence zone around their nest.


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