Look out! Dive-bombing magpies about in Wollongong

Heads up: Warm weather in July has sparked the magpie-swooping to begin, according to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Picture: Trent Nicholson
Heads up: Warm weather in July has sparked the magpie-swooping to begin, according to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Picture: Trent Nicholson

It’s time to keep an eye to the sky – magpie swooping season is with us.

Whether it’s kids on their way to school or someone going out for a bike ride, magpies across the Illawarra have been attacking since early August.

It’s led some to think the swooping season has started a bit earlier this year, but a National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesman said that wasn’t the case. 

“Magpies generally breed between July and November each year,” the spokesman said.

“Magpies start breeding as soon as conditions are suitable including when weather begins to warm up.

A magpie warning sign on Kurraba Road near Woonona Surf LIfesaving Club. Photo: Gayle Tomlinson

A magpie warning sign on Kurraba Road near Woonona Surf LIfesaving Club. Photo: Gayle Tomlinson

The spokesman said the diving behaviour was the birds protecting their newborn chicks.

“Magpies are very protective of their chicks,” the spokesman said.

“Some, but not all, magpies swoop anyone they see as an intruder in their territory.

“This protective behaviour lasts only a few weeks, so be prepared to avoid them, or risk being injured.”

The swooping attacks of protective magpies has led to the creation of a a website designed to track and record attacks Australia-wide.

MagpieAlert.com allows people to log on and record where they have experienced a swooping, details about the attack and any injuries suffered.

People can then check the website, find out where attacks have happened and avoid the area.

A handful of listings exist for Kurraba Road and nearby Nicholson Park at Woonona.

Other Illawarra locations listed on MagpieAlert.com are further south at Hutchinson Street, Bombo, and Fern Street in Gerringong.

In case anyone was thinking about taking out some drastic action after being swooped, the national park spokesman warned that magpies were a protected species and it was illegal to capture, harm or kill them.

It was also against the law to collect their eggs or harm their young.

The spokesman said the best thing people can do is avoid nesting areas.

If that wasn't possible people should walk past the area confidently, do not stop and watch the bird as they walk past. 

A hat or bike helmet can help protect your head from the swooping magpie’s beak – and sunglasses can do the same for your eyes.

Cyclists should get off their bike and quickly walk past.

Register magpie attacks here: MagpieAlert

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