Magpie swooping

09 September 2020

As we begin to emerge from our winter hibernation, it’s natural to want to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather.

But, we’re not the only ones soaking up some sunshine. Spring is breeding season for many animals, including magpies.

That means it’s also swooping season for the iconic Australian animal.

You can protect yourself from being swooped by:

  • Walking through a magpie’s territory quickly, but don’t run, as this may startle them.
  • If you’re on your bike, walk it past the magpie, don’t ride.
  • Take a different route next time.
  • Carry an umbrella.
  • Wear a hat, helmet or even an ice cream container on your head.
  • Wear glasses to protect your eyes.
  • Watch the magpie whilst walking away quickly – magpies are less likely to swoop if you look at them.
  • Don’t let your pet attack birds as this may trigger swooping.

Whilst most magpie swooping occurs between August and October, some magpies have been known to swoop as early as July and as late as December.

Each individual magpie will only swoop for a period of six to eight weeks, if at all.

Year-round, it’s important to remember that magpies aren’t naturally aggressive animals. For the majority of the year, magpies are good Canberran neighbours. They eat insects that damage our gardens and protect other smaller birds that live near them.

During the swooping season, magpies build their nests, lay and protect their eggs and raise nestling and fledgling babies.

Magpies may become territorial during this time and some will swoop people and other animals near their nests to protect their young.

While no one likes being swooped, remember that all native birds, their eggs, their young and their nests are protected by the Nature Conservation Act 2014 and the Animal Welfare Act 1992.

It is illegal to interfere or harm a magpie in any way. ACT Parks and Conservation Service have a policy to manage swooping birds which takes into account legislation and public safety.

Visit the Magpie Alert website to track swooping magpies near you.

The ACT Government also erects warning signs in the most prominent magpie swooping areas. Other areas where magpie swooping is prevalent can be reported to Access Canberra on 13 22 81.

All Canberra

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