Archive for August 24th, 2006

Be nice to the magpies, and the magpies will be nice to you

The fuss and hooplah about swooping magpies which always seems to rear its head at this time of the year never ceases to amaze me.

Admittedly magpies do swoop other creatures which they perceive as a threat, but it is worthwhile looking at it from the magpie’s point of view. The magpie is a parent, it is raising children (baby magpies), and the area surrounding the tree containing the nest is the magpie’s territory. Most of the creatures which pass by the tree are of little concern as they don’t appear to pose a threat, but some do, for one reason or another, register as a threat to the magpie.

One magpie near where I work will swoop cyclists, but not pedestrians or cars or umbrellas or dogs or anything else…just cyclists. One can only assume that this magpie was, at some stage, nearly run over by a cyclist, and now perceives bicycles as a threat.

This behaviour is recognised in the academic community…Andy, in a comment over at The RiotACT, explains this quite nicely. (It’s just a pity that the article the comment is attached to insinuates that ABC Local Radio had the news of Liberal MLA Vicky Dunne’s concerns about the effect budget cuts will have on magpies first at midday on Wednesday, when in fact 2CC had the news on Tuesday).

magpies learn… some post grad, or somethin, at CSU, demonstrated with a couple of people. they’d walk through a magpies territory, and just keep goin.
the other guy, he’d eye off the magpie, and seem threatening to it.
3 years later, same group of people, magpie continued to attack the guy that was threatening, but not the other ones.

I know that there are quite a few magpies in the area where I live, and I am always courteous towards them. If they are walking around on the grass, I will walk on the other side of the footpath and give a pleasant “hello” to the magpies. If I am taking Nattie for a walk in an area where there are magpies, I will keep her away from them.

The way the magpies begin to trust people is quite noticeable, there are magpies near where I live who will move away from many people, but will not be in the least bit bothered if I am walking close to them.

I have never been swooped by a magpie.

In most cases, if you are swooped by a magpie, it is worthwhile thinking about your own behaviour…do the magpies flutter and fly away when you walk past them? do you ride a bicycle near magpies? Of course, in some cases the magpies are just being overly territorial, but in most cases, there is some justification for their actions. They feel threatened for some reason, and feel a need to protect their children.

Magpies live in urban areas because we built our urban areas on their native habitat…we don’t have to give the land back to them (that would just be stupidity), but we should be courteous towards them and try to understand why they do the things they do.

Protect your local magpie

Magpies are lovely birds, they deserve our respect and courtesy.

In semi-related news, I would like to publically congratulate and thank John Laws for providing a voice over to the RSPCA in their latest series of television advertisements, featuring a sad little busking dog.


3 comments August 24th, 2006 at 06:52am


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