Swoopers~



Wild Australian magpies are inquisitive, wise, friendly, and fun to interact with. Like most creatures, they are usually respectful to you, if you are respectful of them.

But, they do swoop!

Swooping means they attack humans, other animals, cars, etc., causing about a thousand human injuries in Australia each spring. See:

https://www.science.org.au/curious/earth-environment/how-survive-magpie-swooping-season

They swoop if they perceive their nestlings are in danger….

or maybe, if they are having an irritating day.

Like all corvids, they have excellent memories and hold grudges, so if you bothered a corvid in the past, you better steer clear during swooping season, or else be ready to duck down really fast!

Cheers to you from Australia’s marvelous-memoried, moody-magpies~

183 thoughts on “Swoopers~

  1. We have lots of Australian Magpies (introduced here in New Zealand in the 1800s). Our dog (springer spaniel) saw magpies swooping on our cat. The dog has never forgiven the magpies and spends all day chasing them away! Wonderful photographs as always Cindy.

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    • I have photographed magpies in London and Ireland. In Ireland they were flying up high and breaking clam shells with rocks they dropped. In London they were laboriously teasing fox kits who were stalking them in a walled garden. Precious! დ

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  2. I had seen the North American version but never heard of swooping. On to Google: Very interesting bird; said to swoop mainly while chicks are in the nest in a range of about 50 feet and most references were to Austalia.

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    • Yes, and only approximately one in twenty Australian magpies are aggressive and attack during nesting season. It is thought by ornithologists that the aggressive birds had a prior negative experience with humans.

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  3. An interesting point Cindy, my mom has a family of them in her yard and because she gives them a bit of food occasionally (when she gardens they sit beside her and grab the odd worm she digs up), must make her part of their family I suppose. And they never attack her when they have a nest of young ones in the yard πŸ˜€
    But if your someone from outside…look out. I have had blood drawn from a nasty beak gash from other nesting parents in different parts of town. And there is no warning until they are right on top of you, the snap, snap of their beaks as they are ‘swooping’ and lining you up. This can also be referred to as ‘dive bombing’ πŸ˜€
    The poor postman, and many others, have cable ties through their motorbike and bike helmets sticking up like some alien creature to stop them getting that close that they can cause an injury (Look up ‘magpie helmets Australia’ in Google then click images at the top) πŸ˜‚ 🀣

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  4. What glorious birds! The article you linked to was also very interesting: “The best antidote to swooping is friendship. Magpies have excellent memories and can recognise individual faces. So if you frequent an area enough, they may recognise you as the friendly neighbourhood human and won’t swoop.
    But beware: β€œMagpies form memories of enemies as well as of friends,” says Kaplan. Those who antagonise a magpieβ€”for example by swinging at them with an umbrellaβ€”will be perceived as threats and will be treated as such. So be kind, and magpies will be kind in return.” The article also emphasized their intelligence and playfulness (when not guarding their nests…) “They enjoy sunbathing, play-fighting, frolicking in sprinklers, and swinging on washing lines. They even appear to quardle-oodle-ardle just for the fun of it, like humming in humans.” Thank you for another delightful blog post.

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  5. I have not known that birds can hold grudges. They have very good memories indeed. I now have different perspective to any birds now.

    They look intelligent but also could be dangerous too if you mess with them.

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  6. Ooo – Magpies scare me. I had a friend in boarding school – just outside Mittagong, NSW – who was viciously attacked by a Magpie,, and she ended up in hospital with multiple scalp lacerations and a concussion. Very scary birds – and if they take a disliking to you, they will come after you again. An aggressive bird with a memory for faces, is a frightening thing.

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    • I am sorry for your friend. How seriously traumatic for her, especially as a child. Researchers found that only 1 in 20 magpies attack. The one’s that attack are thought to be reacting to prior negative experiences with humans. They do tend to go after children. Researchers think this may be because some children tend to pester them, throwing rocks etc. The good thing is they remember acts of kindness as well as acts of aggression. Magpie populations in Australia are declining. I have a physician friend who was attacked twice by hawks on his property and made the national news for it each time. He walked under their nest. The first time was a mistake, the second time is harder to understand. დ
      Here is a link you might find interesting about how to avoid attack: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/28/when-magpies-attack-the-swooping-dive-bombing-menace-and-how-to-avoid-them

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  7. I wish I could swoop, too, when I’m having a bad day!! Love that they’ve got such good memories (of course, I’ve never bothered one, so perhaps they wouldn’t swoop me, ha!)

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  8. Interesting Hallowe’en post, Cindy!
    The cute little Corvids swoop.
    The ugly Covid has swooped & continues swooping. Very, very scary post! OMG!

    β¦πŸ‘»β¦β˜ οΈβ¦πŸ˜ˆβ¦πŸ‘»β¦β˜ οΈβ¦πŸ˜ˆβ¦πŸ‘»β¦β˜ οΈβ¦πŸ˜ˆβ¦πŸ‘»β¦β˜ οΈβ¦πŸ˜ˆβ¦πŸ‘»β¦β˜ οΈβ¦πŸ˜ˆ

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  9. We like to watch them playing, like when they’re hopping around like little children. One of our favourite birdiesπŸ‘»Extra Spooky Pawkisses for a Happy Halloween, CindyπŸ‘»πŸΎπŸ˜½πŸ’ž

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  10. Gosh, I was about to say how beautiful the swoopers are, but then I read your post and decided they were too much like some people I know so maybe I should rethink their beauty!
    I never knew the first thing about them, though…so your post educated me! Thanks, Cindy!

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    • Yes, they do this and it is terrible to watch. Lots of other birds raid nests too. I have to remember that some humans eat veal and lamb, and I only stopped recently doing this recently. დდ

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