Keep an eye on the sky! Magpies swooping from up on high

Spring is just days away so it's time to keep an eye to the sky - magpie swooping season is with us.

The dive-bombing behaviour of magpies is caused by the birds protecting their newborn chicks from anyone entering their territory.

A Sutherland Shire resident had a near-miss with a swooping magpie near 473 President Avenue at Kirrawee on August 4.

"Swooped while travelling west, very mild. Bird only swoops cyclists, and is very on/off," Norm posted on the Magpie Alert! website.

"Been past travelling east twice since and not swooped."

A pram walker was not so lucky on Ramsgate Road at Beverley Park on August 24.

"Magpie swooped me (slight cut on ear) while walking my newborn son in pram on path between golf coarse and road," JD reported "Had a few goes at me till I scared him off with rocks."

Over at Engadine a cyclist was dive-bombed by a magpie on Woronora Road opposite Fairview Avenue.

''Riding bike down Woronora Road got swooped multiple times,'' BJ posted on Magpie Alert! on August 3.

A National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesman said the diving behaviour was the birds protecting their newborn chicks.

"Magpies start breeding as soon as conditions are suitable including when weather begins to warm up," a spokesman said.

"Magpies are very protective of their chicks. 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."

A magpie warning sign

A magpie warning sign

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.

Locations listed on MagpieAlert.com in 2018 included:

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

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 magpies 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