Why do magpies swoop?
Magpies are as Australian as lamingtons and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. During their spring breeding season from about July to December, it’s vital to be alert to swooping magpies – part of their distinctive protective behaviour as they ward off intruders from near their nest and young.
If you’re walking or running with your dog, riding a bike or even thinking of a socially distanced picnic in your local park, it pays to be aware of swooping magpies in your area to prevent injury. Wearing a hat and sunglasses is a good idea, and if you notice swooping magpies, you can protect your head with an umbrella or small leafy branch held above your head. Bike riders often attach cable ties extending upwards off their bike helmets to add some further protection.
Taking an alternative route around the area where you’ve seen magpies is one way to minimise the risk of swooping, but if there is no way around, then generally it’s advisable to walk through the bird’s territory quickly but without running. Watch the birds as you walk past, they have the ability to recognise familiar faces, so talking softly and reassuringly is recommended instead of being loud or screaming. Protect your pet by keeping dogs on lead and discouraging them from chasing the magpies.
You can also track or report swooping magpies in your area via the Magpie Alert website. The natural diet of magpies includes insects, lizards and small rodents. So it is not recommended to feed magpies mince or human food as this can lead to nutritional imbalances which can result in diseases affecting their growth. There’s more great information about the impact of feeding wildlife on the Healthy Wildlife Healthy Lives website
So remember to be alert but not alarmed when you see magpies swooping, and follow this advice to minimise the risk of injury to you or your pet. For further advice this magpie breeding season, speak to one of our friendly team at Sydney Animal Hospitals on;
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