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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Magpie alert: swooping season off to early start

Four magpie attacks have already resulted in injury in the ACT, as the much-begrudged swooping season gets off to an early – and non-socially distanced – start.

Usually beginning around early September, the iconic (and aggressive) birds show their protective behaviour of their young by swooping passers-by.

The MAGPIE ALERT APP shows Canberrans being swooped as early as the end of June this year, but the hostile behaviour looks to have really ramped up since the beginning of August.

Four residents have reported injury from the incidents – one while walking in Moncrieff and three cyclists – one in Kambah, another in the city centre and a third presumably too shaken to report an accurate location.

Cyclists are regularly swooped during the (usually) eight-week window, with many seasoned riders tying cable ties out of their helmet to repel the birds.

The MAGPIE ALERT APP has included some handy tips for cyclists, to avoid a terrifying encounter where the usual “they’re more scared of you than you are of them” mantra doesn’t seem to apply.

Bike riders can protect themselves from swooping birds by:

  • walking through the bird’s territory quickly, don’t ride
  • protect your head with a helmet
  • wear glasses to protect your eyes
  • watch the birds while walking away quickly from the area – magpiesare less likely to swoop if you look at them

Access Canberra also advises protecting your pet, not having them off-lead in a swooping bird area, and even attaching a flag or streamers on a stick to your bike or a backpack, for both a fashionable and practical deterrent.

The MAGPIE ALERT APP encourages all residents to log their swooping encounters to let the wider public know where to leave sleeping birds lie. You can access the website online.  

For more news stories:

Canberra Weekly
Canberra Weekly

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