Backyard Buddies tips on avoiding magpie attacks
IT'S NOT an uncommon experience to be walking or cycling in Bundaberg and Childers when suddenly a black-and-white shadow swoops down on you, sending you ducking for cover.
While these experiences can be scary, Backyard Buddies wants to let you know it ain't all black and white.
Backyard Buddies is a free program run by Australia's Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife.
Each month, you could get a Backyard Buddies email with tips to make your backyard inviting and safe for native animals, said Susanna Bradshaw, CEO of the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife.
"But there are a lot of things you can do to avoid getting swooped, by understanding why magpies behave the way they do," she said.
"It's important to remember that not all magpies swoop. Female magpies don't swoop at all as they are busy tending to their chicks and only some males do.
"In fact it is estimated that only 9% of magpies swoop. The male magpies that do the swooping, believe they are protecting their offspring."
They will only swoop for about six weeks of the year. September is usually the peak swooping month and then they will start to calm down and you can go about your business in peace again.
The most common targets for magpies are people riding bicycles, young children and males, although each magpie will usually have its own target. These birds are very intelligent and will often approach you from behind or from the direction of the sun to try and catch you unawares.
The best thing to do is avoid locations where you know there is a magpie swooping. Alter your walking or biking route for the next six weeks after a swoop.
Magpies tend to nest in the same spots each year, so remember where your local, aggressive magpie is so you can avoid him next year as well.
There are some tips you can try to deter a swooping magpie but remember that each bird is different and what works for one, might not work for another.
Tips for bike riders during magpie swooping season:
Hop off your bike and walk past a magpie's nest.
Change your route for the next six weeks.
Attach a flag to the back of your bike higher than your head level.
Stick a pair of printable eyes on the back of your helmet. (If the magpie has seen this before, it may not deter it, as they can learn the difference between real and fake eyes).
Fasten plastic cable ties echidna-style to your helmet to try and prevent them from getting at your head.