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Magpies have started to appear in the news with stories about swooping on pedestrians and bike riders. It’s not because they’re aggressive but they’re just being protective of their nestlings and not all of them do it.

Bird Show superviser Matthew, said:  “Very few nesting Magpies actually do this and those which do, just want you to go away from their precious chicks.”

Spring is breeding season for “Maggies”. Some males can get very territorial and any invader, a bike rider or pedestrian, is considered a possible predator. To keep their chicks safe, Magpies try to scare off whoever enters their territory. This occasional swoop is generally not harmful, but Matthew from our QBE Free Flight Bird Show sometimes people get scratched about the head. In a very few sad instances, people’s eyes have been injured by the over-protective birds.

Matthew recommends keeping your distance if the Magpies are swooping. The birds usually prefer to swoop from behind, so keeping an eye on them can deter attacks or at least help you avoid the swooping Maggie.

The black and white birds have a beautiful call and most of the time don’t care about humans around them.

They breed as long as the weather is mild and there is enough food available for their offspring, taking us easily through September and October.

By leaving food scraps or uncovered household rubbish about, humans can unwittingly help extend the Magpie breeding season even though human food isn’t good for magpies and other wildlife.  

Although there’s been no sightings of breeding Magpies around Taronga, Matthew’s certain the season’s already under way.


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