They prefer to attack from the rear, can be very aggressive and show no fear when it comes to sizing up their opponents - so it's little wonder we are all dreading this time of the year.
It's magpie swooping season - when the birds take over our skies, streets, parks and yards and send us running for safety.
As breeding season begins, magpies are usually building nests and laying eggs in South Australia between August and October.
South Australia's Department for Environment and Water animal welfare manager Dr Deb Kelly said a magpie's swooping can last for around six weeks.
"The males defend their nests from the time the eggs are laid until the young birds are fledged, and they will attack anything they consider to be a threat, from a raven or a dog to a human," she said.
"They aren't malicious - they're just defending their young.
"Magpies have excellent recall for faces and very long memories, so if you've been swooped before, or even if you just look like someone they swooped last year, you're likely to get the same treatment again."
Dr Kelly said there were ways people could avoid being swooped.
"They only defend their nests within about a 50 metre circumference, so the best way to avoid a visit from the black and white bombers is to take a detour around known nest sites if you can," she said.
Other ways to avoid being swooped include:
- Travel in groups, as swooping birds usually only target individuals.
- Carry an open umbrella above your head.
- Wear sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat.
- If you ride a bike, walk it through magpie territory or have a flag on the back of the bike that is higher than your head.
- Do not act aggressively. If you wave your arms about or shout, the magpies will see you as a threat to the nest - and not just this year, but for up to five years to come.
- Walk, don't run.
- 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.
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