Make peace not war with black-and-white dive bombers

Vet and TV personality, Dr Chris Brown has urged people to make “piece” not war with the dive bombers of September, our neighbourhood magpies.

This is what he recently posted on-line.

Make peace not war. He's just a protective dad.

Make peace not war. He's just a protective dad.

“It turns out those spiky helmets and drawn-on eyes aren’t the answer to the spring-time tradition of magpie swooping. The key to peace on our streets is actually diplomacy. Let’s hope our world leaders are listening…”

Or as one Argus reader dropped in to tell us, you could try “reflective surfaces on your helmet. I have a silver- chrome helmet, they dive in, see their reflection and go away.”

But back to Dr Chris.

He referred to work done by University of New England “magpie behavior expert”,  Gisela Kaplan,  which has  revealed that showing your face and your honourable intentions will ultimately save you from further swooping. Why? Well, the fact is when male magpies launch themselves like a missile, they’re simply trying to protect their nest from an unknown threat. But aside from their beak, magpies are also armed with an even more impressive weapon – their brain.

“They can remember the faces of hundreds of people and whether they’re friends or foes. Continue to run, ride-by or worse still, fend them off with a stick or umbrella and you'll only inflame the political situation here. The man of the magpie house will continue to flex his mini muscles.

“So take a positive step towards peace with your local ‘pie by standing your ground, taking off your hat and showing them your friendly face before moving on. This simple act should take you off their swoop list for years to come,” Dr Chris said.

Why not be the first to try and let us know how you go?

Also tell us where the little swoopers are lying in-wait.

Why do they swoop?

Male magpies only swoop during mating season in spring due to a huge increase in testosterone where they become over protective dads. The mating season can vary from state to state but generally is between late August to late October, with the occasional borderline case.

Safety tips

Keep alert and pay attention for any magpie nesting sites.

Travel in groups where possible as the birds often target individuals.

Keep an ear open for their distinctive calls.

Wear sun glasses and with a hat to protect your head and eyes.

If a magpie swoops while you are cycling, it will probably stop swooping if you get off your bike and walk.

If you spot a magpie nesting site then stay well clear and even plan alternative routes.

If you get swooped then tell others, log the attack and inform your local council.

Do not provoke the magpies, they are very territorial and will protect their nests.

Try making friends with the magpies by feeding them with raw mince, slithers of steak and some readers have suggested cat food works too.

Wear a wide-brimmed hat or carry an umbrella.

It is important to try to stay calm, if you panic and flap then this is more likely to appear as aggressive behaviour and provoke a further attack.

Try to protect your eyes with your hands, those large beaks are very sharp and eye injuries have been previously recorded.

Magpies seem to have very good memories and have attacked the same people over subsequent seasons and others they just leave alone. If it's attacked you before probably a good idea to use an alternative route next season!

Face the magpie they tend to attack from behind so facing them should avert an attack.