Audible warning of swooping magpie

To: "John Leonard" <>, <>, "Darryl Jones" <>
Subject: Audible warning of swooping magpie
From: "Philip A. Veerman" <>
Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2003 13:08:22 +1000
The book "Magpie Alert" by Darryl Jones (UNSW Press 2002) goes into that behaviour, though it being a few months since I read it and reviewed it for Canberra Bird Notes, I had forgotten about that aspect. Page 47 of the book describes this calling associated with aggression. I agree with John's observation although most people are not as bird aware as we are and wouldn't know a magpie from a duck.
I can also inform that I have been bitten in the face by a Pied Butcherbird after having stopped to admire two newly fledged Pied Butcherbirds and was strolling off. It shrieked as it hit me.
The signs about "Swooping Bird", without even getting specific! are done because signs mentioning Magpies tend to be souvenired, probably due to the connection to Collingwood football club.
-----Original Message-----
From: John Leonard <>
To: <>
Date: Thursday, 23 October 2003 19:59
Subject: [BIRDING-AUS] audible warning of swooping magpie

I have been swooped on my way to work for the last month or so (this is
while cycling), and this prompts me to an observation.

Each time I have entered the territory of the swooping magpie I have heard
the angry 'Yeow Yeow' call  before it has attacked. This hasn't always
helped me to predict which direction the bird was going to come from, but I
have never been swooped without hearing that call in the preceding few

In the experience of birding-aus members, do magpies always give audible
warning before swooping? If so, it might be a useful thing to include in
public information about magpie attacks, as even a second's warning allows
one to crouch lower, or, for a cyclist, to slow down—as it is those keyed in
to the call are at a distinct advantage. Public information in the ACT, at
any rate, is pretty hopeless; the standard notice refers to a "Swooping
Bird", without even getting specific!

John Leonard

John Leonard (Dr)

PO Box 243, Woden, ACT 2606, Australia
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