Stay safe from swooping magpies and other nesting birds


Redlands Coast residents are urged to be aware of nesting magpies and other birds who may swoop to protect their young.

Mayor Karen Williams said July to December was the traditional breeding season for a number of birds and some could become overzealous while protecting their nests.

“Magpies are the most commonly recognised birds for swooping but others, such as plovers and butcherbirds, will also swoop at this time of year,” she said.

“Birds swoop as a defence mechanism to protect their young when people or animals get too close.

“Plovers are under constant threat as they lay their eggs on the ground.

“By understanding the reason behind their defensive behavior, and taking some simple steps when in their vicinity, everyone can stay safe from swooping birds.”

Council’s environmental ambassador Ranger Stacey said there was only a small percentage of magpies that swooped.

“This is usually because they have had a negative experience with humans,” she said.

“Magpies are really intelligent and have great memories, and they can hold a grudge.

“It is only the male magpies that swoop as the females are on the nests. In any one area, the swooping only occurs for about four to six weeks, while there are young in the nest.

“Magpies take the job of parenting very seriously and the dads are sometimes super protective. Our job as humans is to give them the space they need and try to live in harmony.”

Residents are encouraged to be alert and follow these safety tips to avoid being swooped:

  • Find out where birds are nesting and avoid the area if possible
  • Find an alternate route or stay at least 150m from a nest area
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses or hold a bag or umbrella over your head
  • Get off and walk your bicycle around nest areas
  • Or, if riding a bicycle, put spike or flag decorations on your helmet
  • Walk in a group when possible
  • Never approach or try to pick up a young magpie.

For more useful tips on swooping birds, visit Redland City Council’s website.