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How can I be safe going to school without getting swooped?

By Zach789 21 November 2009 26

As a primary school student I am always careful about not getting hurt but recently I have been getting swooped by magpies.

I leave my house at 7 am to get to school early and I where my new york flat cap and the sun makes my cap shine and when it does me and my friends get swooped.

How can I go to school here in Canberra with my friends without getting swooped by magpies?


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26 Responses to
How can I be safe going to school without getting swooped?
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Nick Sundance 10:27 am 26 Nov 09

As a young tacker, I had a little trick for avoiding magpies – I ran all the way to school.

Magpies don’t go for hard targets.

Tooks 7:04 pm 24 Nov 09

vg said :

“You could also try just hardening up – magpies are annoying, but only that.”

Tell that to the kid blinded on the southside a few years ago by a swooping magpie. But you know it all….I forgot

Exactly, I think it was a Kambah kid. Most magpies are pretty harmless (flapping wings,clacking beak), but the really aggressive ones can cause serious injuries.

anonymous gungahlian 5:52 pm 24 Nov 09

caf said :

If you hand-feed the magpies in your area during the rest of the year, when it comes to swooping season they’ll remember you and won’t “bite the hand that feeds them”.

Too right, 6 years ago when I was in year 3 my family and I did just that so much that if we left our back door open, the magpies would walk inside squarking for pet mince, I would walk to school along a track near our house (we used to live in Stirling, Robert Comb Gardens) with many magpie nests during spring and never get swooped, infact they would walk up to me wanting to be fed more- my friends would not get swooped if they were with me as well. The worst thing you can do is throw sticks/rocks at them… because they’re smarter than you think.

GottaLoveCanberra 6:23 pm 23 Nov 09

Magpies will swoop whatever they perceive to be a threat to them or their young. So no, they’re not pests they’re doing what is natural to them.

I’ve even seen them swoop my stationary black car before.

You’ll also probably find that those magpies further out on the edges of town or in areas where there’s less human-bird cohabitation will appear to be more aggressive.

In my experience the best defense is to carry an umbrella/stick like object and place it above your shoulder pointing back while also maintaining visual contact in the direction of the bird. The stick will prevent the bird from getting to close and keeping an eye on it might prevent it from swooping at all.

Common signs of a magpie about to swoop include watching them fly up to a perch first, and then once on that perch/tree they’ll hunch down and steadily watch you. Usually the first sign of warning for those less aware of their surroundings is the whoosh whoosh of their wings or the clacking of their beaks. It’s for this reason that during swooping season I advise against using portable music devices, or if you do, at least leaving one earphone out.

Food for thought!

Inappropriate 3:44 pm 23 Nov 09

An umbrella?

icantbelieveitsnotbutter 3:44 pm 23 Nov 09

sloppery said :

vg said :

“You could also try just hardening up – magpies are annoying, but only that.”

Tell that to the kid blinded on the southside a few years ago by a swooping magpie. But you know it all….I forgot

Maybe that kid should watch where they’re going next time…

Well i’m sure they would… if they could see. Very Sympathetic you are

Trinket 2:07 pm 23 Nov 09

Birds including magpies are attracted to things that shine. If your cap shines, the chances are they are attacking your cap rather than yourself. Try to wear something that doesn’t shine when the sun gets to it. If that doesn’t work, walk a different way to school.

sloppery 1:57 pm 23 Nov 09

vg said :

“You could also try just hardening up – magpies are annoying, but only that.”

Tell that to the kid blinded on the southside a few years ago by a swooping magpie. But you know it all….I forgot

Maybe that kid should watch where they’re going next time…

KidKenosha 12:42 pm 23 Nov 09

I stand by the comment I made, although perhaps I could have phrased it better than “harden up”. Magpies are part of the environment. By all means be careful, wear a hat, carry a stick or equivalent — but they’re really just doing something that’s built-in. If you’re really that afraid of them, then don’t leave the house, and spend the rest of your life in your pristine, safe, boring environment. In the mean time, myself and pretty much every other Canberra schoolkid ever (and student, and all the rest of us who still walk/ride places) have been swooped, have learnt how to deal with it, and accept it as just an annoying part of Spring.

“Tell that to the kid blinded on the southside a few years ago by a swooping magpie. But you know it all….I forgot”

I really do feel sorry for that kid, and I don’t mean to trivialise their injury. But frankly, it’s a one-off event, unless there’s been a recent epidemic of magpie-inflicted blindings that the Canberra Times has mysteriously failed to report. Considering the number of magpie swoopings that must occur every year, I’m not convinced that we need to start wearing goggles outside or getting mummy/daddy to drive us to school every day.

el 10:24 am 23 Nov 09

niftydog said :

Don’t try to hit them with sticks or anything like that – they are a protected species and if you harm one you could be fined.

Indeed – rocks are far more effective.

caf 9:52 am 23 Nov 09

If you hand-feed the magpies in your area during the rest of the year, when it comes to swooping season they’ll remember you and won’t “bite the hand that feeds them”.

niftydog 9:22 am 23 Nov 09

To add to the barrage of useful suggestions above…

Obviously you know where the magpies are, so keep an eye out for them before you get into the swooping zone. When you get close to them make sure that at least one of your group keeps staring at the magpie at all times. Magpies are very unlikely to swoop if they know you’re watching them. They might come down and have a bit of a squawk at you, but they shouldn’t dive-bomb you while you’re looking at them – that’s why they always come from behind.

Don’t try to hit them with sticks or anything like that – they are a protected species and if you harm one you could be fined.

I thought swooping season was over – I haven’t been attacked in weeks.

Jim Jones 9:02 am 23 Nov 09

Aeek said :

Enough children like to tease magpies, no surprise that the favour is returned.

A new high point for Riot Act: telling primary school students that they had it coming, and to ‘toughen up’.

Nice one guys.

vg 10:57 pm 22 Nov 09

“You could also try just hardening up – magpies are annoying, but only that.”

Tell that to the kid blinded on the southside a few years ago by a swooping magpie. But you know it all….I forgot

Aeek 8:54 pm 22 Nov 09

Enough children like to tease magpies, no surprise that the favour is returned.

KidKenosha 5:33 pm 22 Nov 09

No, I tweaked a bit too. When I was a primary school student, I went out of the way to get myself into as many dangerous, dirty and fun situations as I possibly could – and I’m a better person for it.

To the OP: find a different way to walk, or carry a stick. You could also try just hardening up – magpies are annoying, but only that.

Dork 4:39 pm 22 Nov 09

“As a Primary school student…”

Am i the only one that finds this weird…?

bd84 3:50 pm 22 Nov 09

predators too..

bd84 3:49 pm 22 Nov 09

harryhaller said :

bd84 said :

Magpies don’t naturally swoop humans, the ones that do are just pests.

Out of curiosity: with what authority are you making such a claim, especially the latter part of the sentence?

Magpies swoop to protect their young from their preditors i.e. those who attack, kill and eat, normally other birds and animals such as cats. It’s that reason that the majority of magpies do not swoop humans, the small number that do are pests.

georgesgenitals 3:45 pm 22 Nov 09

Hazza said :

Walk in a group. I’ve found that you wont get dive bombed if you have some friends around.

Especially those ratbags you hung with at uni, eh Hazza? 😉

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