Duck for cover: swooping season is here

Magpie swooping season is well and truly here. Picture: Geoff Jones
Magpie swooping season is well and truly here. Picture: Geoff Jones

Spring may have just begun, but magpie swooping season is already well underway here in St George and Sutherland Shire.

Magpies usually nest in spring, and begin swooping to protect their nests and eggs from mid-September onwards.

However, according to reports logged to the Magpie Alert website, there have already been attacks in the region.

Stretching from Bardwell Valley in the north to Engadine in the south, just over 20 swooping incidents have been reported on the site in St George and Sutherland Shire.

Three cases were reported in Sylvania between early August and September 8 (Harley Street, Port Hacking Road and Evelyn Street).

"[Our] next door neighbour feeds them so they swoop us and our cats if in front yard," one Sylvania user reported.

Two incidents of swoops on cyclists were reported in Sans Souci Park, while cyclists were also targetted on Parramatta Street, Cronulla.

"Swooped kids several times on bike and on scooter," a user reported of the Parramatta Street incident in late August.

"Especially went for my youngest child."

Kids were also reported as swoop targets at a Woolooware Park on August 12, and kids on bikes and scooters ducked for cover on Old Illawarra Road, Barden Ridge on August 28.

Other swooping incidents - mostly on walkers and cyclists - were reported in Engadine (Woronora Road, Lantana Road), Yarrawarrah (Laurina Avenue), Sutherland (E Parade), Kirrawee (President Avenue), Bangor (Breeza Place), Cronulla (Kurnell Road), Woolooware (Restormel Street), Kurnell (Prince Charles Parade), Bardwell Valley (Hillcrest Avenue), Narwee (Kardella Crescent), Oatley (Gungah Bay Road), Ramsgate (Tonbridge Street), Sans Souci (Alfred Street) and Kangaroo Point (Kangaroo Point Road).

A WIRES spokesperson explained male magpies were known to actively defend their territory against real or perceived threats to their eggs.

However they assured the behaviour was short term and only lasted until the chicks become fledglings.

"Magpies have excellent memories and are believed to be able to distinguish between people and so can identify unknown individuals whom they perceive as intruders," the spokesperson said.

"When they recognise someone as a permanent resident of their territory, such as in backyards, they are often more tolerant."

The spokesperson explained when defending their nest, a magpie will begin with a warning to the intruder that they are coming too close to the nest, by firstly carolling, then clapping their beak and swooping.

"If the intruder doesn't retreat, magpies may swoop even closer and eventually make contact if they feel the nest is under immediate threat," they said.

"Please remember that just like any other caring parent, swooping magpies are not targeting you personally they are simply protecting their young from a perceived threat and this behaviour will only last for a few weeks."

The spokesperson said if a magpie does get you in its sights, the best thing to do is to stay calm.