Magpie breeding season swoops into Cooma and Jindabyne

Everyone is being reminded to keep an eye out for magpies protecting their nests as the breeding season begins around Cooma and Jindabyne.

Australian magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Area Manager Pam O'Brien said that the breeding season is in full swing with magpies being particularly protective parents.

"For most of the year these birds are a much-loved member of our community with their beautiful songs and cheeky demeanour," Ms O'Brien said.

"But for a few weeks in Spring the need to protect their family can make them aggressive.

"Magpies tend to swoop any perceived threat in their territory from the time that the eggs are laid until the fledglings are almost ready to leave the nest.

"Not all magpies swoop but it can be very frightening if you are on the receiving end of their 'defence mechanisms'.

"The best thing to do is avoid the areas where magpies are nesting and if you do get swooped, try to stay calm.

"Please remember that magpies are defending their young, not attacking people," Ms O'Brien said.

There are a few simple steps people should take to avoid swooping magpies:

  • Try to avoid the area. Do not go back after being swooped. Australian magpies are very intelligent and have a great memory. They will target the same people if you persist on entering their nesting area.
  • Be aware of where the bird is. Most will usually swoop from behind. They are much less likely to target you if they think they are being watched. Try drawing eyes on the back of a helmet or hat. You can also hold an umbrella or a long stick in the air to deter swooping.
  • Keep calm and do not panic. Walk away quickly but do not run. If you are really concerned, place your folded arms above your head to protect your head and eyes.
  • If you are on your bicycle or horse, dismount. Bicycles can irritate the birds and the major cause of accidents following an encounter with a swooping bird, is falling from a bicycle. Calmly walk your bike/horse out of the nesting territory.
  • Never harass or provoke nesting birds. A harassed bird will distrust you and as they have a great memory this will ultimately make you a bigger target in future. Do not throw anything at a bird or nest, and never climb a tree and try to remove eggs or chicks.
  • Teach children what to do. Educating kids about the birds and what they can do to avoid being swooped will help them keep calm if they are targeted. Its important children learn to protect their face.

NPWS also remind people that magpies are a protected native species and it is an offense to harm them.

For more information visit: Australian magpie