KEEP AN EYE OUT: The change in season means a higher chance of swoops as magpies protect their young.
KEEP AN EYE OUT: The change in season means a higher chance of swoops as magpies protect their young. Contributed

Can the internet save us from magpie swoops?

ONCE again, the arrival of spring has also brought an increase in the number of magpie swoops across the country.

Attacks by the territorial birds are often a source of fear and frustration for many Australians, so much so that Jon Clark chose to do something about it.

"It was back in 2013 and I was riding my bike when I could feel something clipping just next to my ear," he says.

"I hit the pedals as hard as I could and credit to the bird, it was persistent - it followed me for about 100 metres."

Jon, a web developer by trade, decided to put his skills to use so others might avoid a close encounter of the feathery kind.

It led him to create Magpie Alert a crowd-sourced site where swooping hot spots can be marked on a map for anybody to see.

It's hoped by making use of new technology, others will be able to plan their routes around nests and avoid run-ins in the near future.

"My main hope is people will use it to keep their distance," Jon says.

"After all, they are a protected species and I certainly wouldn't want any harm to come to the birds - or people for what it's worth."

From a small first year, with just 150 swoops reported, Magpie Alert has undergone huge growth in recent years.

So far, 2016 has boasted up to 2500 registered attacks and more than 300 injuries reported so far.

Jon was quick to point out the increase in numbers is due to the popularity of the site, and not a sudden influx of hyper-aggressive magpies.

There are currently two entries for the Gympie region, one at Eel Creek and the other at River Rd near Gympie Central.

Despite the perception many have of magpies as an outwardly aggressive animal, the bird is by and large quite docile.

Queensland's Department of Environment and Heritage Protection claims only around nine per cent of magpies regularly attack people during the springtime.

Pedestrians and cyclists are advised to change routes, and making use of wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to avoid injury in the event a magpie does decide to swoop.

Jon Clark hopes by continuing to grow and develop Magpie Alert, he'll be able to foster a larger community.

"I love the stories people post - it's good to have a whinge now and then," he says.

Gympie Times


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