Tips to stay safe this bird swooping season

Sunshine Coast residents are asked to remain tolerant of the protected magpies and other defensive birds during their breeding season this Spring.

Sunshine Coast Council Senior Natural Areas Planning Officer Kate Hofmeister said magpie breeding season had begun.

“Our native Australian birds are very clever, they can identify individuals by their facial features and have even been known to remember faces in their neighbourhood,” Ms Hofmeister said.

“Whilst magpies will often stay in one area for up to 20 years, only 10 per cent of breeding males will actually swoop.

“Unlike other members of the Artamidae family, magpies walk along the ground. They do not hop.

“They also listen out for their prey by walking along the ground with their head tilted, so they can hear earthworms and larvae moving underground.

“They are also extraordinary parents, looking after their young for up to two years.”

Ms Hofmeister also suggested some key tips on staying safe during swooping season.

“Swooping only begins once the eggs are hatched and ends once the chicks have left the nest, which is about six to eight weeks,” Ms Hofmeister said.

“When you see male magpies defending their territory, understand they are merely defending their young.

“Move quickly through the area but do not run.

“Dismount and walk your bike and, where possible, walk in groups – or avoid the area altogether.

“Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses or use an umbrella.

“Don’t act aggressively towards them as they have a very long memory, and this will just encourage further defensive behaviour in the future.

“Most importantly though, take a moment to appreciate the complex carolling of one of Australia’s most iconic birds—our humble magpie.” 

Magpies are protected under the Nature Conservation Act. Penalties for injuring magpies vary based on circumstances.

Council has developed signage that can be installed to warn other pedestrians of the temporary defensive behaviour.

To report a defensive bird in your neighbourhood and request this signage, please contact council with the location and species of bird.

Find out more about defensive birds on council’s website.



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