Swooping Magpies

Magpies are characteristic of the Australian urban environment and their social behaviour and distinctive song provide enjoyment for many people.

Magpie pairs breed in Spring (August–October) and with this comes the magpies’ natural behaviour to defend the territory around their nesting site. This may result in magpies swooping either people or pets who they see as a threat to their nest. 

Swooping generally takes place for less than an 8 week period in spring (August to October), starting when the adult pair is nesting and finishing when the young leave the nest.

Here's some known locations that you should avoid in swooping season:

Darlington Point: End of Hay Road near the intersection with Kidman Way
Darlington Point: Griffith side of the bridge over the Murrumbidgee River
Darlington Point: Skate Park
Darlington Point: Entrances to the common (from Chant Street and King Street)
Darlington Point: White Street
Darlington Point: Young Street

Jerilderie: Bunyola Boulevard
Jerilderie: Southern end of Monash Park (Nowranie Street)
Jerilderie: Lake Jerilderie - adjacent to Memorial Park
Jerilderie Medical Centre, 65 Mahonga Stret
Jerilderie Ambulance Station, 31 Southey Street
Jerilderie: Rankin Road on the corner of the new estate
Jerilderie: Wonga Court
Jerilderie: Around the Lake, Memorial Park near the cenotaph
Jerilderie: From St Joseph's School to Council office down Kennedy Street.

Reduce your chances of being swooped!

You can take the following precautions during the period when birds are actively protecting their territory.

  • Avoid the swooping area by taking an alternative route or staying at least 150 m clear of the nesting area.
  • Walk out of the bird's territory.
  • Don't deliberately provoke or harass the birds as this may make them more aggressive.
  • Never approach or try to pick up a young magpie.
  • Take care as injuries can occur as a result of the birds striking.
  • Wear a large, wide brimmed hat and sunglasses or carry an open umbrella. You can place eyes on the back of hats and umbrellas and this may reduce the likelihood of the birds swooping.
  • Keep an eye on the bird as this may discourage attack.
  • Walk in a group whenever possible.
  • Make a temporary sign to warn others.

Bike riders:

  • If possible, take an alternative route.
  • Get off your bike and walk through the bird's territory.
  • Wear sunglasses.
  • Fit a flag or decorations on your bike or helmet.

Magpies and the law

Magpies are protected throughout NSW, and it is against the law to kill the birds, collect their eggs or harm their young. If you feel a magpie is a serious menace, you should report it to the nearest National Parks and Wildlife Service office on (02) 6966 8100.