Swooping Magpies

For most of the year the Australian Magpies are wonderful neighbours. Their carolling song is enjoyed by many in urban areas.

Magpie pairs breed in spring (August - October) and the magpies' natural behaviour is to defend the territory around their nesting site.

This may result in magpies swooping either people, pets or other birds and animals they perceive as a threat to their nest. Only some birds see people as a threat. Most will not swoop you.

Swooping occurs for around 6 weeks, commencing when the adult pair is nesting and concluding when the young leave the nest.

Reduce your chances of being swooped!

STAY CALM. Serious accidents can occur when people, particularly children, panic.

  • Do not deliberately provoke or harass the birds as this may make them more aggressive.
  • Do not throw things or lash out at the magpies.
  • Walk through the magpie's territory quickly - don't run.
  • Avoid the swooping area by taking an alternative route.
  • Protect your head with a large, wide brim hat or carry an open umbrella; you can place eyes on the back of hats and umbrellas which may reduce the likelihood of the bird swooping
  • Wear glasses to protect your eyes.
  • Watch the magpie while walking from the area. Magpies are less likely to swoop if you look at them.
  • Make a temporary sign to warn others.

Bike Riders

  • If possible take an alternative route.
  • Get off your bike and walk through the bird's territory.
  • Wear a helmet and sunglasses.
  • Fit a bike flag to your bike.

Getting Help With Magpies

If you feel a swooping magpie has become a danger to people, it should be reported to the nearest National Parks and Wildlife Service office or the local council, and to the owner of the land on which it is swooping.

NPWS can provide warning signs for you to put up. In extreme cases, they will authorise you to have a dangerous bird destroyed.