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Swooping birds can be a frightening experience. Native birds, including Australian Magpies are highly protective of their eggs, nest and young and will often 'swoop‘ unsuspecting passers-by if they feel threatened during their breeding season.
The breeding season for Magpies is between July and December, peaking August to October. Swooping lasts about 6-9 weeks, while the chicks are in the nest.
What can Council do?
Council does investigate complaints regarding nuisance magpies on Council-controlled land and will erect warning signs in the vicinity of the swooping zone if needed. To report a problem area, please contact Council on (07) 4992 9500.
However, the capture and relocation of problem birds can only be carried out by a person licensed by the Department of Environment & Heritage Protection (DEHP). Concerns over particularly aggressive birds can be directed to DEHP on 1300 130 372 or view the DEHP guideline on relocating magpies for more information.
Please note that all native birds are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and there are serious penalties for taking, harassing or injuring native wildlife. It is illegal to kill birds, or to interfere with their nests containing eggs or young without a Damage Mitigation Permit issued by DEHP.
What can you do?
Like most animals, magpies and other swooping birds instinctively protect their territory, particularly during breeding time. They are protecting their nests, eggs or young from potential intruders. Most birds will swoop within 30-50 metres of their nest. The likelihood of an attack is increased if they are teased or feel threatened in any way.
There are ways to minimise attacks as follows:
Avoid the area and notify council so that signs can be erected to warn others
Move quickly – but do not run
Cover your head – wear a hat, helmet or carry an umbrella
Draw eyes on the back of hats or helmets
Do not harass magpies! – this only gives them more reason to see you as a threat and may increase swooping
Do not destroy nests – they may rebuild, prolonging the swooping
Travel in a group
For more information about living with magpies, visit the DEHP website.