Look out! Magpies are starting to warble in the early hours of the morning – a sure sign that the breeding season is getting underway and that swooping behaviour will surely follow.
Magpie breeding usually happens between August and October. The females typically lay between three and five eggs in early to mid-August and sit on them for three weeks until they hatch.
Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources Animal Welfare Manager Dr Deb Kelly said it’s not uncommon during breeding season for magpies to start warbling between one and two in the morning.
“Swooping starts as soon as the eggs are laid, as the birds are highly territorial and swoop on any perceived threat to protect their nests from predators,” Dr Kelly said.
“Magpies are not malicious, but the males will swoop on humans and other animals if they feel threatened, and their beaks and claws can do some damage.
“The best way to avoid being swooped is to detour around a magpie’s nest if you can.”
Tactics for surviving swooping season
- Travel in groups where possible as swooping birds generally only target individuals.
- Carry an open umbrella above your head.
- Wear sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat.
- Cyclists should walk rather than ride their bikes through magpie territory or have a flag on the back of the bike that is higher than their head.
- Do not act aggressively. If you wave or shout you will be seen as a threat to the nest.
- Walk, don’t run and avoid making eye contact with the birds.
- If you know of an area that has swooping magpies, put a sign up to warn passers-by.
- Take a slight detour around known nesting sites. Magpies will only swoop within 50m of their nests and lapwings in an even smaller area.
More information about swooping magpies is available on the DEWNR website: http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/Plants_and_Animals/Living_with_wildlife