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Menacing Magpies

By Scott Lackenby | Dated September 30, 2014

Spring is a glorious time of year. The weather starts to warm up, the days get longer and flowers start popping up. But Spring is also the time of year that many species start getting ready to breed. And while generally this has little to no impact on us, in the case of Magpies, breeding season can be potentially hazardous!

Magpies are found in areas where there are trees for shelter and nesting and open patches of grass for foraging for food. Basically, Magpies are found everywhere! And while they are generally a well mannered bird, come breeding season, they can become especially territorial. Magpies usually start nesting between June and December. It takes around 20 days for their eggs to hatch and the bubs spend around 4 weeks in the nest before they fledge, where they are able to flap but not fly. It is during the nesting and fledgling period that Mummy and Daddy Maggie will be especially protective. And this is when we humans can start to feel the wrath of these protective parents. Magpies swoop to defend their territory and young from intruders, which unfortunately can be the jogger at the park or the child riding his bike. This defence strategy can cause serious injuries, especially if we are pecked or scratched on the face.

It’s important to remember if you frequent an area that has a particularly protective Magpie that there is likely a nest nearby and s/he is just doing what any new parent would do if they felt their young was being threatened. Unfortunately, if you are on the receiving end of the swooping, it can be hard to feel compassion for the swopping menace! So what can you do to protect yourself? Where possible, avoid areas where you know Magpies are nesting or where there is a protective Magpie. Many local parks will put up notices when there is a swooping Magpie in the area. If you can’t avoid the area, protect your self. Wear a hat or helmet or carry an umbrella when walking through these areas. I remember as a child having great fun decorating an ice cream container helmets to wear to protect us from a marauding Magpie at school.

This is also the time of year that we start to see fledgling birds on the ground. It is extremely important NOT to touch or move the fledgling unless it is in imminent danger. The parents of these fledglings won’t be too far away and time on the ground is important for their growth and development. Obviously if the fledgling is in danger from other animals or you haven’t seen the parents around for a day or more, then that is the time to contact Sydney Wildlife Service or WIRES for advice. Where possible they do not recommend removing fledglings from the area in which they are found.
For information and advice on what to if you find sick or injured wildlife contact either Sydney Wildlife Service on 9413 4300 or WIRES on 1300 094 737

Scott Lackenby
Written by Scott Lackenby

Scott joined the team at Gordon Vets in 1999, where he was immediately impressed with the high standard of customer service. Scott is very popular amongst clients for his kind hearted approach to pet care and his great sense of humour. His particular areas of interest are endocrinology and dermatology.

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