Male Magpies swoop at certain times of the year because they are hepped up on testosterone while their babies are small, and are defending the nest. The official advise is to just stay away from swooping Magpies, but this means not walking on the footpath in my street between June and November, and as a rate payer, this feels a bit unfair. I mean, I live in a beautiful seaside suburb, why should I not get to walk along it for a large part of the year? I know there are whingers out there whinging about the people whinging about magpies, and frankly I don't care - I bet those people have no qualms killing a huntsman spider or removing a possum from their roof. It's hard to be sympathetic to the poor magpies when one has just made your ear bleed. Maybe the magpie lovers haven't been swooped? In recent years a small boy in our town was swooped while riding his bike, fell under a bus and had his arm broken. People have lost eyes to Magpies! Terrifying! Just getting swooped is bad enough. This photo is of Marcus, a local walker who I've met on a few occasions. He is a lovely man, cheerful to everyone, and doesn't deserve this sort of aggression!
Magpies have excellent memories, and will remember you if you walk past their territory more than once; this territory is likely to have a radius of 150 metres. I've tried changing hats when I walk, with a small (not complete) measure of success. Magpies particularly hate cyclists for some reason, and many cyclists thread cable ties through their bike helmets. I've read this doesn't work and although it won't stop the magpie swooping it will stop the magpies beak and claws connecting with the part of your head that is covered. Magpies are clever, and after the first swoop will go for the ears or back of the neck.
What I have found to work is waving a large stick above your head. It doesn't have to be a heavy stick, but it should have a few smaller twig like branches at the top. The magpies start to swoop but pull up because I guess they can't lock in the target (my head) with a stick waving in the way.
I don't carry the stick the whole way, I walk for ages and my arms would get tired. I select a stick from the ground at the top of my street or other known Magpie territory to wave above my head. When this gets too much I then select a smaller stick and stick it in the back of my hat. It works best if there are a few leaves at the top, unlike the one I am modelling here. It works on the same principle as the bigger stick but with less effort. Do I feel like Daisy Head Maisy? Yes. Do I care? No, because I am not getting attacked by Magpies.
Brisbane Council is adamant that Magpies should not be fed under any circumstances, but many people have told me the way to stop them swooping is to feed them. The magpies that swoop me are not just in my street, they are 5 kilometres or more away, so I don't see how this is practical. I mean, I could rig up some kind of feeding dish on the top of my hat, but won't that defeat the purpose? It's a shame they don't like potatoes, I have the perfect delivery method.