Magpies behaving badly

Australian Magpie

Australian Magpie

It is now spring here in Australia. This usually means frenetic breeding activities in our bird life. Up until now I have noticed very little activity around here, which is unusual.

Reasons for this could be:

  • A very cold and dry winter.
  • Little food because of the drought conditions.
  • I haven’t been looking carefully enough.

Whatever the reason, one very obvious sign of the breeding season is the activities of the Australian Magpie. I guess most Australians have experienced an attack from a male Magpie during breeding season. They can very aggressively defend their nest from all interlopers on their territory. And it can be painful; a peck on the scalp from an aggressive Magpie can draw copious amounts of blood, as my wife and sister-in-law can confirm.

An interesting article called “Magpies Behaving Badly” can be found on the ABC Science Online site here.

I am so pleased that our resident breeding pair of magpies do not swoop us. They let us move about the garden without any harassment. In fact, in 22 years of living here, I have only been swooped once, and that was my own fault. I tried to imitate the call of the male. I must have used a few magpie swear words!

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9 Responses to “Magpies behaving badly”

  1. Tricia says:

    That’s a good one about the magpie swear words Trevor! My hubby does a great magpie call, it amazes me every time he does it. I was swooped for the first time last week (by the very same adult whose baby I saved the other morning from the cat). My kids and their cousins used to deliberately run the gauntlet across a farm yard at their grandparents dairy farm. That poor magpie was worn out chasing 6 kids. He actually connected with my son Ryan who wore his pecked and bleeding head like a badge of courage.

  2. Trevor says:

    My wife often tells the story of how her sister was struck on the head as a child. Bled like the proverbial stuck pig she says. Gave her the fright of her life as well.

  3. Trevor says:

    One additional comment – I’d love to hear your husband’s magpie call. I do a very good kookaburra call – I used to amaze the children in my class with it (it another life I was a teacher for 35 years). Friends and family just indulge me – tolerate me – whatever. I try not to do it too often.

    Hasn’t had the effect of bringing kookaburras to live permanently in our garden though.

  4. John / Ivan says:

    I live in South Tweed Heads and over the past 5 years or so, I have managed to learn the maggie “whistle calls” and no matter what season, nesting included, I have always fed bread to those who come to my call, sometines 5-6 at a time.

    After hatching and mobile, the parents bring their chick(s) to learn how to pick up the cubes of bread I give to them. Try as I might, I cannot get them to take bread from my hand, like I have had down in Taree.

  5. Trevor says:

    Our magpies are the same Ivan. They will come to within a metre or two but no closer. Mind you, we’ve never encouraged them by deliberately feeding them.

  6. Phil says:

    I recently had a swooping male it would swoop me and local children.I befreinded the pair and since then they have not swooped.One of the instances of befriending was that I had a terracotta pot on the front verandah with a mint plant in it.The female came down and started eating grubs off the plant .I dindnt even know the grubs were there because they were green.she pulled off 11 grubs and I said to her your welcome hear anytime 🙂

  7. I found a Magpie chick 11 week ago now it’s almost ready to go but I’m a little worried as it has squawed at two very young children and I’m wandering now if these kids are going to be safe with this bird once I let it go. Maybe the bird is feeling grumpy being caged up and seems to go molting. I have let it out of the cage but it just wants to run around picking up sharp or shiny bits of finish in its beak and picks up cigarette ends gets to eat them. I care about this bird but looks like it’s head is f…..! Help.

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