Are the magpies getting ready to start nesting?
Australian Magpies are one of the most recognisable of Australian birds. They are common over large parts of Australia.
They are also highly territorial, and in the breeding season they can be very aggressive towards other magpies, other bird species, and, on occasions, towards humans. Their swoop – usually from behind and usually unexpected – can be quite terrifying to some people. They have been know to even draw blood if contact is made with vulnerable parts such as the head. Cyclists seem to attract swooping magpies far more than pedestrians, for some reason.
About this time of the year, however, they generally have not yet started nesting. Now is the time to reinforce their territorial claims, chasing one another in wild, noisy conflicts. I witnessed the start of this only a few days ago in our mallee scrub. Our five acre patch of scrub is the junction of three different magpie territories; the boundaries are fiercely defended. On the positive side, “our” resident magpies never swoop, for which we are thankful.
On my evening walk yesterday I heard the distinctive warning call of a male magpie, one whose territory is about a kilometre from our home. I looked up, and was interested to see a partially constructed nest in the tree over head. This particular bird is aggressive towards humans, so I’ll have to be careful walking along that part of the road in the coming weeks.