Magpie swooping season in Moreton Bay

Published 6:00am 22 October 2023

Magpie swooping season in Moreton Bay
Words by Nadia Chapman

Magpie swooping season is officially upon us and it’s time to stay vigilant and protect yourself.

Between July 24 and October 18 2023, Moreton Bay City Council has installed 183 temporary swooping bird signs.

Moreton Bay City Council Media Manager Sarah Perrott says the council has received a few swooping complaints from locals already.

“92 swoop requests have been received so far this financial year, from July 1, 2023. Of that, 43 swoop requests were received in September 2023,” Sarah says.

“Swooping birds can occur anywhere within the City of Moreton Bay. Generally, Council receives most swooping bird reports from within our urban areas.

“The most common species displaying swooping behaviour include the Australian Magpie, Masked Lapwing, Pied Butcherbird, Grey Butcherbird, Noisy Friarbird and Noisy Miner.”

The reason magpies swoop is to protect their young from potential threats.

University of the Sunshine Coast (UniSC) Moreton Bay Campus Senior Lecturer in Animal Ecology Dr Dominique Potvin told Moreton Daily last year the birds have an extraordinary memory, with an ability to recognise more than 20 people.

“They will only swoop when they see particular faces that they consider a threat – whether that person has fought back or been aggressive in the past,” Dr Potvin says.

“They also remember if you’ve been kind to them, or if you’ve given them a little something (to eat). They will get to know who you are, especially if you live in the area. They’ll learn and know you’re not a threat.”

At this time of year, they are particularly wary and it’s in their best interests to work together.

“They’re just really good parents, they’ve built their nests and laid their eggs and at some point between when they lay their first eggs and their young fledge (leave the nest), they’re very protective,” Dr Potvin says.

“They’re just trying to protect their babies at all costs.”

How to protect yourself

There’s no single way to protect yourself from swooping because the birds will swoop different people for different reasons.

The best way to protect yourself is to avoid the areas where they are swooping, which is why you should always be aware of the warning signs.

“The number one way is to avoid an area where they’re swooping,” Dr Potvin says. “That’s why we put signs up.

“Another big thing is to maintain eye contact. You have to chat to them and keep an eye on them.”

To view Australia’s magpie swooping map, visit magpiealert.com

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