Take care in swoop­ing sea­son

Be on the look­out for mag­pies in spring

Alpine Observer - - Front Page - By VANESSA BURGESS

ANY­ONE want­ing to ven­ture out­side for a bike ride, walk or run is be­ing re­minded to be on the look­out for the dreaded swoop­ing as­sas­sin – the mag­pie.

With spring weather set­ting in, mag­pies have be­gun their nat­u­ral breed­ing be­hav­iour and com­menced their swoop­ing on­slaught.

To pro­tect their young, male mag­pies be­gin plot­ting their swoop­ing tac­tics at the end of Au­gust and gen­er­ally, by the end of Oc­to­ber, the fun of watch­ing peo­ple scream and cower in ter­ror has run its course.

De­spite the ob­vi­ous glee these feath­ered crea­tures gain from ter­ror­is­ing peo­ple mind­ing their own busi­ness, folks are be­ing re­mind­ing not to hurt these birds who are sim­ply pro­tect­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of as­sas­sins.

Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment, Land, Wa­ter and Plan­ning se­nior wildlife of­fi­cer Gary Dash said the first in­ci­dents of Aus­tralian mag­pies swoop­ing in Vic­to­ria have been re­ported.

“Be­ing swooped by a ter­ri­to­rial bird is no fun, but this is just nor­mal bird be­hav­iour and, if pos­si­ble, the best re­sponse is to keep away from the area,” he said.

“As the weather starts to warm up, birds start breed­ing and we want peo­ple to be aware of swoop­ing birds.

“Peo­ple should re­mem­ber not to harm na­tive birds as they are pro­tected un­der the Wildlife Act.

Mr Dash said any­one mov­ing through a swoop­ing zone should do so quickly and try to pro­tect their head and eyes.

“They are swoop­ing to de­fend their eggs and young and if they per­ceive you to be a po­ten­tial threat they may swoop,” he said.

“Some places where peo­ple are most likely to be swooped are pub­lic places such as parks particularly where there are tall eu­ca­lypts.”

Alpine Shire Coun­cil ranger Len McGaf­fin said res­i­dents con­cerned about a mag­pie on coun­cil land should call the coun­cil and re­port third.

“Un­for­tu­nately there isn’t much we can do,” he said.

“We can’t re­lo­cate them so the best we can do is put sign up warn­ing oth­ers there is a swoop­ing mag­pie around the pub­lic area.”

Here are some safety tips that may help with pre­vent­ing and avoid­ing a mag­pie at­tack:

Keep alert and pay at­ten­tion for any mag­pie nest­ing sites

Wear sun­glasses and a hat to pro­tect your head and eyes

Keep an ear open for their dis­tinc­tive calls

Try an al­ter­nate route if pos­si­ble

Plac­ing ca­ble ties on your bike hel­met can de­ter a mag­pie from at­tack­ing

Bike rid­ers should dis­mount and walk

Do not act ag­gres­sively to­wards the mag­pie

Do not run To reg­is­ter a ninja mag­pie or any other swoop­ing feath­ered crea­ture in­ci­dent on Vic­to­ria’s Mag­pie Map visit www. wildlife.vic.gov.au/man­ag­ing­wildlife/swoop­ing-birds.

PHOTO: Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment, Land, Wa­ter and Plan­ning.

RE­MAIN CALM: Mag­pies will be do­ing what comes nat­u­rally this spring – pro­tect­ing their young.

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