Magpie's 'weird' act baffles Aussie woman - but there's a simple explanation

The lesser-known habit has surprising benefits.

Magpie swooping season is upon us, prompting Aussies to keep an eye on the sky, but a Sydney resident has captured one of the beloved natives in a rather different position to what she's become accustomed.

The concerned woman posted a video online of the bird spreading its wings flat on the ground, and asked, "Does anyone have any idea what could be going on with this magpie?"

Baffled by the creature's behaviour, she added that it remained in the same position for around 10 minutes before flying off. While some people suggested the magpie was simply relaxing, the truth is slightly more complex.

Magpie sunbathing next to footpath
The magpie's behaviour took one Sydney resident by surprise. Source: Vimeo

Magpie's behaviour explained

According to experts, magpies sunbathe for specific health benefits. "The reason they attempt to spread their feathers is so the sun hits their skin and disturbs any parasites living underneath," the Australian Geographic website states, before explaining that magpies are famously "very, very clean".

Other viewers familiar with magpie behaviour informed the woman about this lesser-known behaviour, alleviating her fears for the bird's wellbeing. "Thanks everyone. I was hoping it wasn't injured or something. It's mouth was open real weird the whole time. Glad it's OK, I love maggies," she responded.

Magpie swooping tips

Meanwhile, as magpie swooping videos flood social media, Aussies have been reminded how they can stay safe from the 9 per cent of male magpies that become aggressive during nesting season.

  • When you "identify the specific area where swooping is occurring", you can "detour around the area for the few weeks necessary", Sydney Wildlife Rescue (SWR) told Yahoo News Australia.

  • If avoiding the area isn't an option, SWR recommends an "umbrella or hat as protection". Some people also "paint or fix large eyes on top of a hat" which can act as a deterrent.

  • If a particularly troublesome bird is causing injury to people, remember that it's illegal to harm wildlife so contact National Parks and Wildlife or your local council for further advice.

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