September 03, 2019

A swooping magpie was shot by a Sydney council

A swooping magpie was shot by a Sydney council
Dr. Chris Brown

A Sydney council has responded to cyclist complaints about a swooping magpie by shooting it. And I’m stunned. Especially when peace with these highly intelligent birds is possible and surprisingly easy...

While cyclists, walkers and even woofers are currently collecting battle scars in magpie swooping season, the move by the Hills District council is horrifying and unnecessary. After all, as magpie behaviour expert Gisela Kaplan from UNE has found with her research, 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. It’s why magpies never swoop someone who feeds them or shares a backyard with them. BUT...if you continue to run, ride-by or worse still, throw sticks or rocks, 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 when you see him perched on a branch, 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.

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