Seven safety tips for mag­pie swoop­ing

Walking New Zealand - - High Achiever -

Anum­ber of us have been out walk­ing or cy­cling when a mag­pie comes down and swoops on us, giv­ing us a big fright.

It’s spring nest­ing sea­son and mag­pies in both city and coun­try ar­eas are be­com­ing highly pro­tec­tive of their young, swoop­ing on ter­ri­to­rial threats.

Here are seven safety tips on how to get through the swoop­ing sea­son.

1. Pay at­ten­tion to nest­ing ar­eas

If you see mag­pie nest­ing ac­tiv­ity in trees in an area where you walk or cy­cle, it is time to plot a new route for the nest­ing sea­son. Avoid­ing the nest­ing area al­to­gether is al­ways the best op­tion if you are able.

2. Never ha­rass mag­pies

Don’t throw things at a nest, don’t climb trees where mag­pie chicks are nest­ing and don’t pro­voke adult mag­pies. Re­mem­ber – they are fiercely pro­tec­tive and will re­act if they think their chicks are threat­ened.

3. Cover up

Carry an um­brella or wear a solid hat if you have to walk through an area in which you know there are mag­pies. This can help pro­tect you and de­ter birds.

4. Stay calm

If you find your­self walk­ing or cy­cling through mag­pie swoop­ing ter­ri­tory and it is too late to back out, stay calm. Walk quickly through the area but do not run. Teach chil­dren to stay calm, too.

5. Be on the look­out and make eye con­tact

Be care­ful and keep your eyes out for mag­pies in known nest­ing ar­eas. Keep your arms up if you are wor­ried. It can be hard to watch for mag­pies as they of­ten swoop from be­hind, but they are much less likely to swoop if they are be­ing watched di­rectly. If you main­tain eye con­tact with a mag­pie for as long as pos­si­ble, it will be less likely to swoop.

6. Get off your bike

If you are on a bi­cy­cle, dis­mount. Bi­cy­cles ir­ri­tate mag­pies and get­ting swooped on while rid­ing can cause ac­ci­dents. Your hel­met will pro­tect you. Walk the bike quickly out of the mag­pie’s ter­ri­tory.

7. Be un­der­stand­ing and con­sid­er­ate

Mag­pies are highly in­tel­li­gent and fam­ily-lov­ing, and they are try­ing to pro­tect their young. You only need to be pa­tient for a few short weeks dur­ing the nest­ing sea­son.

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