To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Magpies
From: John Gamblin <>
Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2001 23:54:10 -0700 (PDT)
G'day All,

I found this and thought it might be useful too many
kind hearted souls. I've added some of my own tips.

Let?s Talk Magpies for they try to talk to me.

Living with magpies:

August to November can be a very uncomfortable time if
you are living in Magpie territory. This is the period
in which attacks can occur, causing a great deal of
distress, especially to those not expecting it. This
material has been produced to explain the reasons why
these attacks occur and what you can do about them.

After being dive-bombed by a threatening magpie, its
not a great comfort to know that the attacks will soon
stop at the end of the breeding season. Nevertheless,
an understanding of why the magpie has just given you
the shock of your life may assure you that the problem
is not really as bad as it seems.

Why They Attack:

Magpies attack people because they have strong innate
sense to defend their territory, particularly at
nesting time. They are protecting their nests, eggs or
young from potential intruders, irrespective of
whether they are other magpies, predators or people.

Their territory may include your backyard, the park
across the road or the local schoolyard. It doesn?t
matter to the magpie, as long as you are a potential
threat. However, the probability of an attack is
increased by interfering with or teasing the magpie.

The scare tactics of magpies:

Swooping is the most common attack method. The bird is
only threatening or bluffing, only means to scare the
intruder. It is unlikely to attack if you walk
confidently on, keeping an eye on it.

Beak clacking as a bird swoops overhead is another
form of bluff. Like some dogs, magpies can sense fear
and will capitalize on it by continually attacking.

In a strike attack, a magpie usually swoops, hovers
momentarily and then strikes. The fluttering of wings
as the bird hovers can be a warning for adults and
older children to duck their heads and avoid the

What to do:

Keep in mind that most birds attack only during the
nesting and rearing period, that most of the supposed
attacks are really bluff and that the bird rarely has
any intention of actually harming you.

There are many avenues open to avoid the impact of the
magpie season.

Try to stop children and others interfering with
magpies, especially close to the magpie zone or nests.

Befriending the birds by feeding is by far the most
effective and the most pleasant way of minimizing
attack problems. Birds fed regularly with household
scraps, particularly bread and meat, soon get to know
you well and will accept you without fear right
throughout the breeding season.

If you know a BBC chef that makes a great bread
pudding even better.

However, this method may only be possible if the bird
lives in the vicinity of your home.

After being swooped, if you stand your ground and
glare defiantly at the bird it will usually retreat to
a nearby tree.

Wearing a hat while working or playing in the backyard
and garden is one of the simplest and most effective
means of protection, especially for children. The hat
deters much of the magpie activity and also deflects
any accidental or intentional strike by the bird
this occur.

Magpies hate being watched, so children playing in the
yard could try wearing a hat or an ice-cream container
with ?eyes? painted on the back of it ? sunglasses
worn backwards have a similar effect.

Waving a hat, stick or umbrella will often cause the
bird to retreat.

If Nothing Works:

If you find that none of these solutions work, and you
cannot tolerate severe attacks, contact your nearest
wildlife department office to discuss your problem and
a possible solution.

Birds will be destroyed only in the most extreme
circumstances and only where it can be shown that all
other tactics have failed.

Because the magpie is a protected bird, no person is
permitted to take the law into his or her own hands.
Penalties apply for destroying protected wildlife.

Note: Butcher-birds have also been know to attack
humans. The reason why they attack, and the solutions
open to you, are the same as those applying to magpies.

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