If you get off your bike and walk, the magpie should leave you alone. The most popular tip was to ‘use cable ties or pipe cleaners on the helmet’. To reduce the risk of being swooped upon, be aware of where the magpie is nesting, respect our native wildlife and avoid the area if possible. Stay tuned for our next ride! Magpies are an intellegent bird, able to recognise upto 100 individuals and will swoop riders from 50- 100m away from their nest. Male Magpies swoop people because they are protecting their chicks, but also because the person walking or riding by reminds the bird of someone who disturbed them in the past. Native birds such as Australian Magpies are highly protective of their eggs, nest and young and will often swoop at unsuspecting passers-by if they feel threatened. About eight per cent of aggressive birds target only cyclists, showing no interest in pedestrians but going for 65 per cent of passing bike riders. Actually, they are not even corvids. Magpies are protected throughout NSW, and it is against the law to kill the birds, collect their eggs, or harm their young. That’s why it happens between July and November when magpies build nests for their eggs and after their offspring hatch. All individuals in a group help defend the territory from other birds, but it is usually the males that defend the nest during breeding season. Need some advise; CYCLING SAFETY; How to stay one step ahead of a potential bird attack; Best defence against magpies. → Wear a wide-brimmed hat. I know what is like to be swooped. The Australian Museum respects and acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the First Peoples and Traditional Custodians of the land and waterways on which the Museum stands. Receive the latest news on events, exhibitions, science research and special offers. Suitable breeding sites are in short supply and once attained, a territory must be defended to prevent it from being reduced or seized. Magpies swoop to defend their young. In this section, find out everything you need to know about visiting the Australian Museum, how to get here and the extraordinary exhibitions on display. Magpies only swoop for about six weeks of the year when they have babies in their nest, often at the start of spring. Almost all attacks are made by male birds that see people who ride or walk as a threat to their young. Wearing a hat during the period in which a bird is aggressive is one practical way of avoiding injury; another is to avoid the area for a couple of weeks. Thank you for reading. The Sydney Morning Herald. During this time, they're primarily looking to defend their nest and its inhabitants. The Magpie Goose differs from most waterbirds in having strongly clawed toes that are only partially webbed. Vicious magpies launch thousands of attacks across Australia - but mystery surrounds why the birds don't swoop in one state Urban myths have suggested magpies do not swoop or attack in Tasmania This incredible image was captured by a rear facing helmet cam worn by a motorbike rider when travelling in Middlemount, Central Queensland. → Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. So far 100% success but plastic spikes. Magpies have very long memories. Why do magpies swoop in spring? Magpies mate for life, and it’s the male bird that defends the nest, and may swoop at passersby when chicks are young. We work with leading minds, universities from around Australia, organisations and institutions to provide compelling science stories for everyone to watch, read, listen and share thoughts on what’s happening in science. “His role is to keep predators away from the nest area. How does a hungry Balinese god search for food? Why do they do this? In this section, explore all the different ways you can be a part of the Museum's groundbreaking research, as well as come face-to-face with our dedicated staff. Error saving your details. So, in the interests of public safety, we’ve trawled through the web and asked the experts: how do you successfully avoid being swooped by these devious dive bombers? Walk, don’t run. Magpies dawn and dusk choruses are one of the most loved Australian bird calls. If a magpie swoops while you are cycling, it will probably stop swooping if you get off your bike and walk. Magpies are smart, extremely territorial and will swoop riders from up to 100m away from their nest. Unfortunately, some individual magpies perceive humans as a potential threat and accordingly, swoop down with a fast warning flight, occasionally making contact. Even rarer are attacks designed to wound rather than intimidate. If you are a cyclist, walker, runner or maybe a concerned member of the public then help protect others and share swooping magpie attacks on-line at https://www.magpiealert.com/ ". Usually kids on bikes throwing stuff at swooping magpies leads to that magpie being more agressive to kids, people on bikes and anyone who might a similar look. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collection, Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), Natural Sciences research and collections, Australian Museum Lizard Island Research Station, 2020 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes finalists, 2020 Australian Museum Eureka Prize winners, Become a volunteer at the Australian Museum. Open Menu. 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. Magpies seem to have it in for cyclists because they follow a more predictable routes (usually paths and rural roads) than pedestrians, and unlike pedestrians, cyclists can’t easily turn and confront tmagpie attackers head on. Why they like one person and not another doesn’t make sense to us but simply comes down to who the magpie sees as a threat to their chicks, Dr Jones said. Only a small minority of Australian Magpies behaves like this, and some of these aggressive magpies will only swoop on particular people. The best tactic it seems is ‘know your enemy’. Magpies typically nest for around six weeks between August and October, when the father is responsible for defending his babies by chasing away any animal he considers a threat – including humans – within 50 metres of the nest. . They produce solo vocalisations when they are not constrained by social and environmental factors. Walking adults were rarely attacked but children were, with boys – the usual chuckers of rocks and sticks – in particular becoming prime targets, along with bicycle riders, joggers and posties. They also remember the characteristics of who they have felt threatened by. But spring also brings a treetop terror that casts a feathery shadow over even the sunniest of rides. You do not need to be a scientist to know that the environment is sick. Cyclists are a fast moving target seen as a threat to a nesting group of magpies. Other tips to avoid injury include wearing sunglasses while walking or riding to protect your eyes and dismounting from your bike if a magpie is swooping since more injury is often caused from the fall off the bike than from the bird itself. So when out and about this Spring, remember: be alert not alarmed. Do not act aggressively. Image credit: gadigal yilimung (shield) made by Uncle Charles Chicka Madden. Get our monthly emails for amazing animals, research insights and museum events. “Things like attaching eyes to the back of your helmet, most of the research says no, these tricks don't work,” he said. With a feathery threat lurking in the trees, how will you escape the magpie swooping season unscathed? As such, magpie swopping seasons occurs during their breeding period. They’ll also let most people walk by untroubled, swooping on just 35 per cent of them. Sign up below to stay in touch and we’ll send you the latest bike riding news as it comes. Magpie Perch, Cheilodactylus nigripes, Richardson, 1850. Well actually, it turns out they don’t much - in the case of the Common Myna . You should move away from the area slowly. Got a hot tip to avoid being swooped? → Face the magpie and stare at him. Geoff Maslen was riding his bike to the gym on a beautiful spring day in Melbourne, Australia when he started to feel something pinging off the back of his helmet. This means that they swoop anywhere and everywhere – in urban and rural areas, in parks and gardens, along bike paths and in schools. SWOOPING MAGPIES HAVE LOCALS IN A FLAP Only males attack and it only occurs during the breeding season because they are adapted to protect their young, not to defend territory. Magpies. If you must enter a ‘defence zone’, magpies will be less likely to swoop if they are … The Australian Museum respects and acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the First Peoples and Traditional Custodians of the land and waterways on which the Museum stands. Magpies will usually only … Avoid ‘defence zones’ by taking alternative routes during the breeding season. The Peregrine Falcon is one of the fastest birds of prey, swooping down at speeds of up to 300 km/h. Magpie Alert warns that injuries tend to occur when cyclists fall off their bikes during an attack, like the man in Wollongong. Our network; Subscribe Log in. No matter how you categorise this bird’s behaviour (at certain times of the year), it does possess some beautiful attributes. Magpies are partners for life. We acknowledge Elders past, present and emerging. I cannot give you a proved explanation of why magpies don't swoop in Tasmania. Cyclists shudder as magpies swoop again. So do any of these ideas actually work? WITH magpies out and actively swooping, DANIELLE NOHRA has compiled a swoop scoop on why magpies swoop, when they swoop, what to do when they do, and what not to do. ... 29 per cent will have a go at walkers and cyclists, and 8 per cent of them are exclusive haters of bike riders. Magpies usually swoop to … Mullet are commonly seen leaping out of the water. This is probably due to the melodic nature of the calls. Experts advise against fighting back against the bird or running away quickly. For those bike riders who are not immune to a swoop or two, Les said most of the tried and tested tricks would, unfortunately, not help out. CANBERRA cyclists, walkers and runners have already started to report swooping magpies in … About 52 per cent of magpies that swoop target only pedestrians, letting cyclists off scot-free. Magpies are smart, extremely territorial and will swoop riders from up to 100m away from their nest. If you do stumble upon a magpie nesting area or find a magpie swooping at you, walk away quickly and calmly, and try to maintain eye contact with the bird to scare it off. Please try again or contact us if the problem persists. However it is estimated that only about 9% of magpies actually swoop and the vast majority of those are males. The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning have produced a magpie map, identifying locations where people were swooped. Firstly, only 12 per cent of magpies swoop, and 99 per cent of them are male. The bad news is that experts say there’s little evidence to suggest any of these tactics provide consistent results. Some strategies were perfectly sensible: put up a sign or post on your local ‘magpie map’ to warn other walkers and riders and take a detour until nesting season is over (you should be safe by November). Peak breeding season for Australian magpies is August through to November, which is normally when the swooping begins. Australia’s Science Channel is free and open to everyone. Magpie swooping is generally a defensive action taken when someone unknown approaches who the … As expected, much of the advice is varied and contradictory — speed up, slow down, travel in groups, go solo, get off your bike and walk, don’t get off your bike. Most magpies don't swoop, but when they do, it's the male protecting the nest and their resources. Skip to sections navigation Skip to content Skip to footer. Thanks to the photographers for sharing their image with The Australian museum for education purposes. They're a gardener's dream, a cyclist's nightmare, and according to the Guardian's poll, Australia's bird of the year. Magpies tend to attack from behind so facing them has been known to avert an attack. Territorial behaviour varies greatly, depending on the stage of the breeding season, so most of the aggressive Australian Magpies will only be a problem to humans for a couple of weeks. (ABC News: Brad Marsellos) The recommendations came from his research that delved further into previous studies that found some birds use facial recognition to decide who to target when defending their nests. Why do magpies swoop in spring? I speak of that insidious, swooping bird of prey—the magpie. However, only around one in ten males in breeding magpie pairs actually “show aggression” by swooping at people, Professor Jones said. Check out the What's On calendar of events, workshops and school holiday programs. Why do birds fly south? Join us, volunteer and be a part of our journey of discovery! (This image may not be used without the permission of the photographers.). They are less likely to swoop if … Magies are one of Australia's most highly-regarded songbirds. Doctor Daryll Jones said cyclists needed to make themselves look "completely ridiculous" to avoid swooping magpies. Nevertheless, my goal here is corroborating your impression with some data, and indicating a possible cause. The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning have produced a. Yes, it’s that season again, when magpies swoop and cyclists are skittish. The calls or vocalisations of the magpie can be Research by Emma Rose Roper on the vocalisations of the Australian magpie found that "Australian magpies are involved actively in the acoustic sounds they produce. Magpies will often hold a territory in excess of ten years and have a lifespan of 25-30 years. DO: → If you’re riding a bike, skateboard or scooter, dismount and walk until you’ve passed its territory. Thanks for registering. Magpies live in groups of 3-24 birds in the west and 2-10 in the east of the country. You have reached the end of the page. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. You have reached the end of the main content. Pedestrians tend to be swooped within 30-50m of the nest and bike riders from about 100m from the nest. The Birds in Backyards website lists 30 species of bird that are sometimes found in towns and cities. Aussie Magpies and swooping. Know the swooping areas, give these birds space and take a detour—at least until they get their young out of the nest.