Magpie breeding season is here, so look out for swooping magpies over the next couple of months.
Magpie breeding season is here, so look out for swooping magpies over the next couple of months.

Here are the Coast's swooping magpie hotspots

THE tell-tale whoosh of wings and the chattering of a beak can instil fear into the most seasoned of cyclists.

It is that time of year when magpies become overprotective parents, swooping those who venture too close to their nesting tree.

It is also when you start to see cyclists with their zip tie helmet mohawks and walkers using anything in their hands to cover their heads as they run the gauntlet.

For avid cyclist Tim Whitburn, the danger of swooping magpies is very real.

The Giant bicycle store salesman has been cut by scraping claws under the eye in a previous magpie season and sliced on his cheek in another, but Mr Whitburn said he had found only one technique had stopped magpies from coming back for multiple swoops.

"One little squirt from your water bottle and they won't swoop again,” he said.

"It doesn't stop them from attempting the first swoop, but without it, some of them will re-swoop four or five times when you ride past.”

Mr Whitburn suggested only confident cyclists give it a go, as the manoeuvre required riding one-handed, and he encouraged people not to aim directly at the birds, as it was only a means of creating confusion so they would stop their attack.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection suggest dismounting your bike and watching the magpie constantly as deterrents for cyclists, while pedestrians are encouraged to wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses, or shelter under an umbrella.

"Painting or sticking large 'eyes' on the back of your hat can also deter magpies-but this may not work for cyclists,” a DEHP spokesperson said.

The breeding season will continue until early December, with swooping usually ceasing six weeks after the chicks are born and they have left the nest.

"Only a small proportion of nesting magpies swoop on people and those which do will attack cyclists riding past and anyone walking near to their nests,” the DEHP spokesperson said.

"Almost all swoops at people are carried out by male magpies defending their eggs and chicks.

"A magpie's defensive behaviour can range from a non-contact swoop, with or without beak snapping, through to pecking, dive-bombing and sometimes front-on attacks from the ground.”

Magpies are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, but if a magpie that is defending its nest becomes aggressive and a risk to human safety it may, in some instances, have to be removed.

But the onus is on the landowner or complainant to organise a wildlife relocater and foot the bill.

Sunshine Coast Council officers are also not authorised to capture or relocate overly-aggressive magpies.

Complaints regarding swooping birds on council land will be assessed and a decision made regarding monitoring the site, erecting signs to warn pedestrians or engaging a licensed private wildlife contractor.

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