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Seasonal Animal Advice

Read about some of the seasonal behaviour of native animals

Swooping Magpies

Friday, March 20, 2015

A swooping magpie is protecting its territory and nest, it will only act in this manner at breeding time and you will find that it is only some birds that will do this. It is usually as a result of previous perceived intrusion on its territory.

Magpies are territorial and cannot be relocated, in springtime they have eggs or young, if the offending adult bird was to be relocated there would be no parent bird to look after the young, and they would starve to death. You would also have another Magpie move in as soon as the territory became vacant.

So how do we overcome this problem?

  • one way is to avoid the area for the short time while the magpie is nesting
  • another is to carry an open umbrella
  • wear a hat
  • carry a stick just above your head, do not try to hit the magpie as this will only make it even more aggressive to the next person
  • if possible use the other side of the road or garden during breeding season, and enjoy watching the young as they learn from their devoted parents
  • alert other people in the area to the fact that a magpie is nesting by erecting a sign.

Magpies usually build their nest fairly high up in the trees, the basket like nest is made from sticks leaves and grasses, they make use of things like string, rope, wire, hair and anything else they may think useful. They will reuse the nest year after year doing repair work every new season.

Breeding takes place between June and December. The eggs take about 21 days to hatch, and the young spend about 4 weeks in the nest before they leave. The nest is the most dangerous place for a juvenile bird, as predators can easily find them, so the parent birds will encourage the young to leave as soon as possible. They will leave the nest before being able to fly, they will flutter from bush to bush being fed by the parents. You will usually hear them being very noisy at this particular time of the year, as they beg for food from exhausted parents.

Magpies are great visitors to your garden, as they eat a variety of destructive insects.

Do not be tempted to feed wild birds, the natural balance is easily upset, instead place a bird bath in your garden, and remember to change the water regularly to minimise the chance of disease.


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