Living with swooping birds

Magpies are spectacular birds that will do whatever it takes to protect their nest and eggs, and are wonderful parents. Here are some guidelines from Gladstone and District Wildlife Carers to help get through the swooping season.

magpie swooping onto cyclist helmet

We live amongst some spectacular birds in our community. Magpies are birds that live in territorial hierarchies with intimite social net workings. Magpies can be found in areas with large trees and grassy areas where they feed.

It’s important to understand why these birds swoop. Most swooping birds in our communities are protecting their young and their nests. From June through to December these birds are busily constructing nests built from twigs, string, bark, leaves, hair and grass. Once a suitable nest has been constructed the female bird will lay her eggs and both male and female birds will do whatever it takes to protect their nest and eggs.

They complete this task by swooping incoming threats to their territory. This results in humans, dogs, cats and other native animals being ‘attacked’ by these wonderful parents. From the time the eggs have hatched it takes another 4 weeks for the hatchlings to leave the nest.

Unfortunately due to lack of bushland and nesting trees, magpies nest in our suburbs. This results in birds swooping members of the community. We try to encourage people to live harmoniously with these special animals. Relocating swooping animals results in the following outcomes:
•    Eggs fail to hatch or hatchlings starve to death.
•    Other magpies eventually end up replacing the relocated birds and therefore the cycle continues.
•    If a nest is removed the adults will build another nest in its place.

With the following these steps we can learn to live together with these birds:

•    Avoid or take an alternate route to where a magpie is nesting.
•    Walk your bike through designated magpie territory.
•    Use an umbrella.
•    When in an area with a swooping magpie, walk quickly and directly    until out of their territory.
•    Walk with children if they pass through a magpie territory on the way to school.
•    Notify Gladstone Regional Council of swooping magpies so they can put up notices warning others in the community

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