It’s magpie swooping season once again

Yes it’s that time of year when we typically start to see alien looking bike helmets and walkers on alert for an attack – it’s magpie swooping season.

The breeding season typically kicks in from July to November with swooping usually coming to an end once the chicks have left the nest.

Only a small number of nesting magpies swoop on people and those which do will attack cyclists riding past and anyone walking near to their nests.


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Almost all swoops at people are carried out by male magpies defending their eggs and chicks.

It’s important to be aware of the potential for this to occur and to make sure children in particular are equipped with some simple tips to stay safe during magpie season.

A magpie’s defensive behaviour can range from a non-contact swoop, with or without beak snapping, through to pecking, dive-bombing and sometimes front-on attacks from the ground.

Tips to stay safe during magpie season include:

*Wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses or shelter under an umbrella to protect your face from swooping magpies (painting or sticking large  eyes on the back of your hat can also deter magpies (but this may not work for cyclists).

*If a magpie swoops while you are cycling, it will probably stop swooping if
*Avoid defence zones around magpie nests by taking alternative routes during the breeding season.

*If you must enter a defence zone magpies will be less likely to swoop if they are watched constantly, or if people walk in close groups.

*Use signs to warn others of the location of nests and defence zones, particularly in areas used by children and the elderly.

*Waving sticks or umbrellas in the air or attaching a brightly coloured flag on a long pole to your bicycle can stop magpies from swooping.

*If a magpie swoops shield your face and head and leave the area quickly but carefully, being mindful of your surroundings such as roads.