While riding her bike down a street in Holder in July this year, Jodie Rowlinson felt a "punch" on the back of her right shoulder.
"At first I thought, 'Oh gosh, is that a person'? Because it came at me really hard. I had no idea. And I knew there [were] no people around, so I thought, 'Did I miss somebody'?" she recalled.
"I continued to ride my bike and he kept following me. I actually felt really frightened, and I didn't know what I was meant to do."
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The 36-year-old, who moved to Canberra from Sydney three years ago, had never been swooped by a magpie - something she had thought was "a mythical thing".
"[I thought] they probably provoke the magpie or something like this. And then lo and behold, it happened to me," Ms Rowlinson laughed.
As spring looms, more Canberrans are reporting magpie swooping, with the official magpie map reporting 32 "attacks" so far in 2021 on Sunday.
A swooping magpie proved fatal last Sunday, when a mother fell on her baby while trying to avoid a bird in a Brisbane park.
However, only about 10 cent of magpies will ever swoop, behavioural ecologist Professor Daryll Jones said.
"The males are trying to keep away what they see as a threat from their precious babies," he said.
He said 75 per cent of magpies would only attack either pedestrians, cyclists or posties; and many would only attack one or two people.
In his job as a groundsman, Rob meets a lot of magpies around the ACT. He said 99 per cent were friendly and would eat food from his hand - except for one: George.
"This particular guy just hates everyone with a hat on," he said.
They meet every two weeks when Rob does maintenance on a property in the magpie's territory.
"When I mow the lawns I'm there for roughly two hours, so [it's] semi-impossible to get away," he said.
Magpies are smart and will attack people who remind them of a previous threat, said ACT Parks and Conversation director Daniel Iglesias.
"We've even had situations where certain coloured clothing seems to attract certain magpies to swoop, and ignore others," he said.
He said the best way to deal with the birds was to build a relationship.
"Get to know your local magpie. Get to understand what makes it tick. Understand what agitates it, understand what it tolerates. So that way you can modify your behaviour, because we're smarter than they are," he said.
He said avoiding a swooping bird could be as simple as wearing a helmet, opening an umbrella, hopping off your bike or taking the dog another way.
However, if you take a wrong turn and come across an unknown maggie, there's only one thing to do. Get out.
"In the moment, you should protect your face and your head, and you should try and move quickly away," said Mr Iglesias.
Mr Jones said a swooping magpie had a clear message, which people should abide by.
"Keep the f*** away!" he said.
In the ACT, rangers will euthanise dangerous or aggressive magpies but Mr Iglesias said it was "very rare", and no birds had been killed this year. Rangers will assess a bird if a report is made, and will often put up signs to warn people.
"Some of them might be very particularly vicious swoopers to the point where they are attacking people in the face, or attacking people around their head, and they are doing that in a very public area," said Mr Iglesias.
"[And euthanasia] is right at the end of our response, because we don't want to do that."
Mr Iglesias said it was not possible to relocate the birds and that killing them was more ethical, but Mr Jones said they could be moved.
"If it's far enough, they don't come back and usually settle down elsewhere. There is no justification for killing them," he said.
While there are varying theories on how to make friends with your local maggie, it could be as simple as giving them an "occasional" treat.
"We don't encourage people to feed any wild animal to the point where they rely on you to survive," Mr Iglesias said.
"Remember, these are wild animals. But if you were to put out a bit of mince meat out for the magpie every now and then, whereby they recognise you and they see that you're not a threat to them [that's OK].
Meanwhile, Ms Rowlinson has developed a unique strategy to prevent being swooped.
"I just avoid trees," she said.
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