Magpie breeding season starts early in Dubbo

EARLY: Spring has arrived and the warmer weather means magpies are already actively swooping and protecting their nest. Photo: FILE
EARLY: Spring has arrived and the warmer weather means magpies are already actively swooping and protecting their nest. Photo: FILE

In case it has escaped notice, this year’s magpie swooping season has arrived early.

Magpies usually nest in spring, and they usually begin swooping to protect their nests and eggs from mid September onwards.  

However, according to reports logged to the magpie alert website, www.magpiealert.com, there have already been attacks in Dubbo. 

A magpie attached a runner on Glenabbey Drive early on the morning of September 6, with the runner reporting the bird was ‘quite aggressive and swooped me two or three times despite being away more than 60 meters from the first encounter’. 

No serious injuries have been recorded to date but bird experts are cautioning people to be vigilant while outdoors and running, walking, and cycling.

President of the Australian Bird Study Association Tony Hunt said the warm winter and dry conditions had contributed to spring’s early arrival.

“The magpie breeding season depends on local conditions and, given most of eastern Australia is in drought, it may not be the same in all areas,” he said.

“They are not intending to attack. It’s dangerous for them as well. They just want to scare people, predators away from their nests.”

Mr Hunt said magpies are protected throughout Australia, and it is against the law to kill the birds, collect their eggs, or harm their young.

If a magpie is a serious menace, it should be reported to the local council.

While the drought would be having an effect, Mr Hunt said “conditions would have to be terribly poor” to stop magpies breeding.

Research has shown that magpie pairs traditionally remain in the same area and become very territorial, but Mr Hunt says usually most birds will not come too close.

“They are not intending to attack. It’s dangerous for them as well. They just want to scare people, predators away from their nests.” 

Mr Hunt said common sense should prevail and it was important to stay calm so as not to aggravate the birds and provoke further attack.

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