Look out! ’Tis the season for swooping magpies

Heads up: Warm weather in July has sparked the magpie-swooping to begin, according to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Picture: Trent Nicholson
Heads up: Warm weather in July has sparked the magpie-swooping to begin, according to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Picture: Trent Nicholson

It’s time to keep an eye to the sky – magpie swooping season is with us.

Whether it’s kids on their way to school or someone going out for a bike ride, magpies across St George and Sutherland Shire have been attacking since early August.

It’s led some to think the swooping season has started a bit earlier this year, but a National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesman said that wasn’t the case. 

“Magpies generally breed between July and November each year,” the spokesman said.

“Magpies start breeding as soon as conditions are suitable including when weather begins to warm up.

The spokesman said the diving behaviour was the birds protecting their newborn chicks.

“Magpies are very protective of their chicks,” the spokesman said.

“Some, but not all, magpies swoop anyone they see as an intruder in their territory.

“This protective behaviour lasts only a few weeks, so be prepared to avoid them, or risk being injured.”

The swooping attacks of protective magpies has led to the creation of a a website designed to track and record attacks Australia-wide.

MagpieAlert.com allows people to log on and record where they have experienced a swooping, details about the attack and any injuries suffered.

People can then check the website, find out where attacks have happened and avoid the area.

One such listing is for Henry Lawson Drive at Peakhurst

On September 7 Glen reported he was attacked by a magpie while riding his bike.

‘‘Swooped at corner of Forest Road and Henry Lawson Drive. Hit from behind and cut right ear and bleeding. Chased down Henry Lawson Drive.’’

Another cyclist warned about a swooping magpie at 146 Chuter Ave, Sans Souci.

On August 7 Darryl posted: “The usual spot, loves chasing cyclists. In 2017 their best score was 4 strikes to the helmet without ceasing. Looks like they are just practicing their skills for 2018.”

Yet another attack on a cyclist, this time on Prince Charles Parade at Kurnell, was posted by Katie on August 5.

“Aggressive magpie swooping and pecking helmets. He was going for every cyclist that we saw in the area. Was there last year too.”

Also on August 5 Tim posted an attack at Clyde Avenue in Cronulla.

“Comes and goes. Doesn't like my daughter's pink helmet.”

Locations listed on MagpieAlert.com include: 

Sutherland Shire

  • 43 Wheatley Road, Yarrawarrah
  • 32 Wollun Street, Como
  • 18B Marion Street, Gymea
  • 7 Clyde Avenue, Cronulla
  • 98 and 126 Prince Charles Parade, Kurnell

St George

  • 146 Chuter Avenue, Sans Souci 
  • 2A Hillcrest Avenue, Bardwell Valley
  • 113 Hannans Road, Narwee
  • 16 Gannon Avenue, Dolls Point 

And in case anyone was thinking about taking out some drastic action after being swooped, the national park spokesman warned that magpies were a protected species and it was illegal to capture, harm or kill them.

It was also against the law to collect their eggs or harm their young.

The spokesman said the best thing people can do is avoid nesting areas.

If that wasn't possible people should walk past the area confidently, do not stop and watch the bird as they walk past. 

A hat or bike helmet can help protect your head from the swooping magpie’s beak – and sunglasses can do the same for your eyes.

Cyclists should get off their bike and quickly walk past.

Register magpie attacks here: MagpieAlert