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Report swooping magpies, as nesting season gets underway

Wollongong City Council is encouraging residents to report swooping magpies. Picture: act.gov.au

WITH magpie nesting season almost upon us, residents are encouraged to report incidents of swooping in parks and streets to Wollongong City Council.

Magpies can be repeat offenders when it comes to swooping behaviours, and Council is taking a proactive approach on the eve of this nesting season, with consideration given to placing warning signs in known problem areas, like on the bike track at Woonona.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said while only about 10 per cent of magpies are known to swoop, it can be a frightening experience.

“With more people than ever using our parks, shared pathways and open spaces for exercising at this time, we’re keen to help magpies raise their young and keep our community members safe,” he said.

“So if you get swooped by a magpie in one of our open spaces please give us a call and let us know and we can look to whether we need to put some warning signage in the area.’’

Council’s works and parks crews are already on magpie lookout for any changes in behaviour.

“There is only a short time of the year when magpies can demonstrate swooping behaviour so it’s important we only put signage in once they’re nesting,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

“That way it will act as a timely visual prompt to people in the area.’’

The magpie is a protected species in Australia and it’s an offence to harm them. The NSW Department Planning, Industry and Environment recommends a number of steps if you’re faced with a swooping magpie:

  • Avoid the area – If you’ve been swooped choose a different path for a few weeks.
  • Keep an eye on the bird – Most magpies usually swoop from behind and are much less likely to target you if they think they’re being watched. Try drawing eyes on the back of a helmet or hat or hold a long stick in the area to deter swooping.
  • Keep calm – Do not run away but walk away from the magpie. You can protect your head and eyes by putting your folded arms above your head.
  • Get off your bike – Walk your bike out of a nesting territory. Keep wearing your helmet to protect your head.
  • Never harass or provoke a nesting bird – Magpies have great memories and harassing a magpie can make you a bigger target in future. Do not throw anything at a bird or nest, never climb a tree or try to remove eggs or chicks.
  • Teach children what to do – It’s important kids learn to protect their face. Teaching kids about birds and what they can do to avoid being swooped will help keep them calm if they are targeted.

To report a swooping magpie visit Council’s Report It pages on its website or contact Customer Service on (02) 4227 7111.


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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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