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How to avoid being swooped by magpies

Yahoo News Australia spoke with Dr Holly Parsons from Birdlife Australia about how to stay safe this spring. Interview: Michael Dahlstrom

Video transcript

HOLLY PARSONS: Ideally live in Tassie, Magpies in Tasmania don't swoop. We don't know why.

- That's just one magpie-avoiding tip from, Birdlife Australia's Dr. Holly Parsons.

HOLLY PARSONS: So Magpies are really intelligent birds. So you can absolutely make friends with your neighborhood Magpies. Anecdotally, people say that they simply talk to them throughout the year, make sure that the birds can see them, and they see their face.

They have the ability to remember about 100 faces. But where we tend to see most of the swooping behavior is where there are lots of people passing through. So it's a park, it's somewhere where there are just basically too many people coming and going for them to remember everybody.

And so they then see a range of different people as being a threat. It's around being aware of the fact that time of year again, and thinking really carefully about where you're going. If there is a swooping magpie around your local park, give it a miss for a month. Just give them some space to get on with what they need to do. And then if you do get swooped, I think the key is, as hard as it is, is to not panic, because of course, that then is threatening, and you're just reinforcing to the magpie that they actually do have something to be worried about.

And I think it's also really good practice when you are out and about during prime swooping season to have glasses on, sunglasses, and to have a hat on, because that means at least your face and your eyes are going to be protected if the worst happens. If you're a cyclist, they tend to really not like bikes, so it's counterintuitive, but actually hopping off the bike and walking can often put a stop to the attack. Magpies don't tend to want to hit us, it's pretty dangerous for them to do that, to hit a solid target. They will do it occasionally, so we just want to make sure that we are as best protected as we can be.