It’s a neverending magpie problem

While a sudden plummet of temperature may have alarmed more than a few residents hoping for some sun last weekend, there should still be some confidence that spring is finally on the way.

And with the season comes the perennial problem of magpies. 

All jokes about footy finals aside, for many people, especially children, the vernal season can become a nightmare of avoiding this seasonally aggressive birds. 

Swooping generally occurs when people come within 100 metres of a nesting tree and magpies defend their eggs and if they perceive a potential threat, they may swoop.

 Menacing magpies strike fear into those who find themselves in their path each spring. While it might seem like nothing for those who have not experienced it, there is also the significant safety factor for unsuspecting children in playgrounds or cyclists on busy roads.

Injuries caused by swooping magpies can be severe and in one instance in Queensland in 2011 it led to the death of a 12-year-old boy, who ran into the path of a car while trying to flee the bird. Some people might suggest simply exterminating the bird is a viable option if public safety is the primary concern, but regulations dictate the birds must not be harmed.

Many people resort to a variety of contrivances to keep them away, from umbrellas to the barbed protuberances from bicycle helmets, all of which work with a variety of success. Some people advocate simply avoiding known areas altogether but this may not be practical. 

In the north east tourist town of Bright the Department of Environment, Land and Water (DELWP) appears to have green-lighted the call to kill a magpie who has created havoc in a popular Ovens River park. 

But at what point does killing a native bird for what is essentially normal bird behaviour become impractical or simply unethical?  One alternative is relocation, but it comes with no guarantee the magpie won’t return.

Lovely season, thorny problem.

How to deal with a swooping magpie

 – Avoid the nest area and take a detour. 

 –  Wear a broad-brimmed hat. 

 – Wear glasses to protect your eyes.

 – Walk quickly away from area. Do not run. 

 – Open an umbrella above your head. 

 – Travel in a group