When is Magpie Swooping Season?

Magpie Swooping Season

Ah, it’s that time of year again. A time of tentatively watching the skies, seeing the magpie swooping warning signs posted on poles and trees, and making amendments to the bike route. Most of us are familiar with the swooping of magpies, and many of us have probably fallen victim to a swooping or two during our lives!

But just when is magpie swooping season, why does it happen, and how can you get through it? Today, we attempt to answer these questions!

Why do Magpies Swoop?

Magpies tend to swoop to protect their young and warn potential predators to stay far away from their nest. As such, magpie swooping seasons occurs during their breeding period. While it may seem like they have a vendetta against people, they’re actually acting on one of the purest instincts – protecting their little ones from harm. According to the ABC, only 8-10% of magpies will ever swoop people. 

When is Magpie Swooping Season?

As mentioned, magpie swooping season occurs during a magpie’s mating period, which tends to fall between August and October each year. While it can seem like it drags on forever when you’re dreading your commute and trying your best to avoid feathered projectiles, a magpie will usually only swoop for around six weeks. This period covers the time from when the eggs are first laid through to when their young are fledged and leave the nest. Once this has occurred, the parent magpies should stop swooping, which should be around November (at the latest). 

What to do if a Magpie is Swooping on Your Route

If you’ve noticed a magpie is swooping on your walking or cycling route, the best way to avoid being swooped is to change your route. However, sometimes that just isn’t possible, and as such, it’s good to have some tactics up your sleeve to try and avoid a swooping! Here are some tips to help avoid getting swooped:

  • Carrying an open umbrella above your head
  • Walking, rather than running
  • Travelling in groups (as magpies tend to only target individuals)
  • Dismount your bike and walk it through a magpie swooping area, alternatively, attach a flag to the back that is taller than your head
  • Wear protection such as a pair of sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat

WIRES also states not to stop when you are swooped, but to instead leave the area. If you stop in place, it could give the bird a chance to continue swooping, as you will likely still be in their territory.

Use Technology to Keep Updated on Possible Swooping Sites

The internet has made the sharing of information incredibly simple and effortless. If you are interested to see if there could be any magpies swooping on your route, you can take a look at a site such as Magpie Alert to view areas that have been reported by users to have had swooping incidents.

Let Others Know About A Magpie Swooping

If you’ve been swooped while out and about, it can be a good idea to let others know so that they can be aware and modify any future routes for a few months. If there is no sign present, contact your local council to let them know where the attack occurred, and request a sign be put up to warn others. Alternatively, report the swooping to a site such as Magpie Alert to let others searching know that the area has swooping magpies.

About Magpies

Magpies are Australian native birds with a distinct black and white pattern. They like to forage on the ground for food, and can often be seen chowing down on worms, lizards, spiders, and sometimes even an unlucky mouse! They can even hear the sound of grubs underneath the earth! 

Once they find a spot they like, magpies will often stay there for the rest of their lives, which can be as long as 20 years! Magpies also mate for life, although if a male magpie dies while the female is nesting, another male will take his place. 

These birds are intelligent and can identify individual faces. They also sing complex songs, and the sound of magpies can often be heard early in the morning as the sun rises. 

While you may think of magpies as annoying birds that disrupt your day, it can be worth remembering that they are only doing so as they feel their young are being threatened and are trying to protect them. It’s also good to remember that only around 10% of magpies swoop. Magpies are smart, sociable birds who like to stay in an area once they have chosen it as their territory. 

Magpie swooping season tends to occur between August and October each year, however, each magpie pair will only swoop for around six weeks. There are a few tactics you can employ to try and ease the stress. The main tactic is to avoid any areas that you know have swooping magpies. If you have been swooped in a spot, don’t return to that area for a while. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for magpie swooping warning signs and to check online resources for your route. If you do need to walk a route that you know has a swooping magpie, deploy some of the tips mentioned here.

And just remember, the swooping season doesn’t last forever!

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