There was an interesting item on a local television news broadcast this evening. It seems that a pair of Magpie Larks has been causing a few problems at the Festival Centre in the CBD of our state capital, Adelaide.
The report stated that a nesting pair of Magpie Larks was busy swooping every pedestrian who dared to use the footpath. The news footage used showed the Magpie Larks swooping low over people’s heads, pecking some of them.
I am very familiar with Australian Magpies swooping people who dare to venture near their nest. I’ve been swooped many times – but interestingly never by our resident pair that nests close to our house. But I’ve never been swooped by a Magpie Lark. Furthermore, I’ve never witnessed this behaviour in this species before, nor have I heard of anyone being swooped by a Magpie Lark.
Interestingly, the news reporter was sporting a nasty wound above his eye. He claimed to be a victim of a Magpie Lark attack earlier.
For 5 weeks or so i’ve been having problems with a magpie lark attacking the house! He started on one window, flying towards it and ‘bouncing off’ it with his feet- repeating this numerous times. He then started on another window -and now he’s just started on the fifth window . At night you can see the window completely covered with the marks he’s made.I’ve noticed him flying into a piece of shiny metal in the park next door also. Is he attacking his reflection- and is it to do with the breeding season?
You have come to the right conclusion – he is attacking his own reflection. He considers this “intruder” to be a threat in his territory and is trying to send him off with a beating. This species is very territorial and defend their territory throughout the year and particularly during breeding season (usually August to December).
They will also attack car mirrors and other shiny surfaces that reflect their image. We haven’t had problems with Magpie Larks – our window attackers are Little Ravens which are more than twice their size. The big raven beak tapping on the bedroom window at 6am is not a pleasant way to be woken up! Especially when accompanied by loud raucous calling and wing beating.
Several suggestions to over coming this problem have been made over the years on the Birding-Aus newsgroup (see my links section) but none seem very effective or they are a nuisance. One person has suggested never cleaning the windows so there is no reflection, but we have proved that this does not work. Covering the windows with shade cloth during spring may deter the bird but this may not look very attractive to humans, and may block a nice view.
An even greater concern is birds flying into a window and killing themselves. This happens very frequently, especially in larger buildings with a large area of glass as a part of the structure.
A small family of magpies have been attacking every window of my newly built house every day for just under a year. It does not matter what time of year it is. I bought a couple large plastic owls from a garden shop and that keeps them well away from that window but they then just move to the next window. I don’t really want to spend a fortune and have owls scattered around the outside of my house… I fear I will have no choice though.
Hi Chris – how about trying a cardboard cut out in the shape of a hawk or owl – it’s worth a try. And a lot cheaper too.