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Magpie swooping season: what you need to know

By Emily Harrison

Male magpies are in full swoop this time of year as they protect their young from predators of all shapes and sizes.

Griffith University School of Environment and Science Professor Emeritus Darryl Jones says the breeding season can start in July and continue through to December, but peak swooping happens in September when most magpies have chicks in their nests.

“It’s primarily the males continuing to do their main job of keeping threats away from the nest. Normally, that would be snakes, goannas, cats etc but just a few add people to the list,” Professor Emeritus Jones says.

He says males do more than protect the nest, they also share the baby-feeding duties equally with the females.

As soon as the young leave the nest, the swooping stops.

“Of the 10 per cent of magpies who swoop people (90 per cent never do), they almost always specialise on pedestrians, cyclists or posties and ignore the other types,” Professor Emeritus Jones says.

“This isn’t the case where there are just too many people to keep track of, and these are the ones we mostly hear about, belting all the people in a park for example.”

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