Terror from above! Swoop season is back
GYMPIE residents could be forgiven for assuming they'd be safe from magpie swoops for at least a few more weeks.
After all, the territorial behaviour is more closely associated with springtime than the middle of winter.
But, as some unfortunate bike riders and pedestrians around town have already figured out - swooping is well and truly back.
"If you get too close they'll use a variety of tactics to try and drive you away," State Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said.
"This can result in swooping, clicking of its beak, or pecking at a passer-by."
With the start of July marking the official start of magpie season, locals are being cautioned to be aware of local swooping hotspots.
Here at The Gympie Times, we are no strangers to putting our bodies on the line to get to the bottom of a story.
It's why motorists passing Attie Sullivan Park yesterday afternoon may have seen two men with hard hats and camera equipment ducking for cover - in the name of journalism of course.
Magpies will often defend their nests within a radius of up to 150 metres, and much of their behaviour towards pedestrians is learnt - often from previously antagonistic encounters.
And despite swooping stories being relatively common amongst locals, studies have shown less than 10% of magpies act in this aggressive manner.
So, before the season truly takes flight, what can you do to protect yourself?
"The best advice is to keep your eyes and ears open, and learn what the magpies are trying to tell you,' Dr Miles said.
"Our ignorance of their warnings is their greatest weapon."
The humble broad-brimmed hat is encouraged as an excellent means of protecting your face and head.
Locals should note any attempt to move or relocate magpies is prohibited as they're a protected species.
If a problematic bird is in your area, the recommended action is to contact a registered bird handler.