It’s magpie season again. It’s that time of year when cyclists ride around with cable ties sticking out of their helmets like echidnas, and pedestrians wear sunglasses on the back of their heads, ducking nervously as they walk beneath a tree.
Magpies swoop as a means of protecting their eggs or newly hatched babies. Some magpies are quite demure in their swoop, while others can get quite violent.
Just this this month several magpies in Canberra’s north were culled after a string of attacks. Magpies had attempted to get food from people – in one instance landing on a child’s head and leaning down to take food from the child’s mouth.
This sort of behaviour from magpies is no doubt fuelled by people feeding the birds to the point where they become reliant on people and can’t find their own food. I don’t like culls of any kind, so I think with this issue people need to be educated before we keep culling the birds. The problem will just continue otherwise.
Magpies swooping in order to protect their young is a bit of an issue in Canberra, and there’s even a dedicated dob-in-a-magpie website where people can ping the location of where they’ve been swooped. This is what it looked like when I checked it out. By looking at this map you would think that living in Canberra is like living in the film The Birds.
I’ve not been swooped by a magpie for some time. Probably over 10 years and it wasn’t in Canberra. I have no idea what my secret is, I guess I’m just lucky. I know some people do take quite drastic measures though, like gluing eyes onto the back of their bike helmet or wearing an ice-cream container on their head.
I’d be keen to know just how far people go, and if there’s a solution that doesn’t involve making yourself look like a bit of a goose.
According to the Magpie Alert website, 10.8 per cent of all magpie swoopings in Australia occur in the ACT. 32.1 per cent happen in Queensland. Some suburbs in Canberra have lots and lots of magpie attacks, while others have none.
When was the last time you got swooped by a magpie and is there a local ‘hot spot’ to avoid?