As winter has given way to spring, the changing of the seasons has meant that magpie families are flourishing and their swooping game has been getting stronger. Here in the western suburbs, Saint Lucia has seen an unusually high number of magpie swooping incidents in the area.

From 1 to 11 October, there have been 18 swooping incidents on locals in Saint Lucia according to Magpie Alert. Most of them have drawn blood and most of the injured people were cyclists.

Other suburbs with a rising number of magpie attacks on locals this season are Bardon, Toowong, Taringa and Indooroopilly. Whilst some have been relatively harmless swooping incidents, others have caused injury as well.

According to a Brisbane study, only 9% of magpies become aggressive towards humans when they are protecting their nests. Male magpies are most likely the protectors and tend to be more defensive than females.

There are ways to stay safe from swooping magpies and no, being angry back at them will not help at all. The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has listed some guidelines to avoid Magpie attacks, especially during this season:

  • Protect your face by wearing a broad hat or bring an umbrella.
  • Paint a pair of eyes on your hat!
  • Get off your bike and walk through magpie zones.
  • Attach a bright flag onto your bike.
  • Avoid identified “defence zones.” These are normally marked based on previous incidents in the area.
  • If you have to walk through defence zones, walk in a close group and watch the magpies closely.
  • Look out for signs when walking through defence zones so you can change your route.

The Brisbane City Council is also continuously exerting efforts to manage swooping birds by educating locals at community events and putting up defence zones signs. Everyone is reminded to take particular care as swooping incidents can also cause road accidents and other indirect injuries, particularly when cyclists in motion are involved.

The council also reminds everyone not to feed magpies and never to remove nests, eggs or touch the young birds.

If you want to register swooping magpies in your area or record your magpie attack, you can do so here.

For now, though, hats on and and watch your heads!