Swooping Magpies

Published on 22 August 2023


Magpies are native birds protected by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.  This makes it against the law to kill the birds, collect their eggs, or harm their young.

Berrigan Shire Council has no powers to authorise or carry out the destruction of magpies.

For most of the year magpies are not aggressive, but for four to six weeks during nesting they will often defend their territory vigorously. People walking past may be seen as 'invaders' of the territory, prompting the magpies to fly low and fast over the person, clacking their beaks as they pass overhead.

The experience of a magpie attack can be quite alarming.

If a magpie swoops at you:

  • Walk quickly and carefully away from the area, and avoid walking there when you are aware magpies are swooping.
  • Try to keep an eye on the magpie while walking carefully away. Magpies are less likely to swoop if you look at them.
  • Wear a bicycle or skateboard helmet. Any sort of hat will help protect you.
  • Carry an open umbrella, or a stick or small branch, above your head but do not swing it at the magpie, as this will only provoke it to attack.
  • If you are riding a bicycle, get off it and wheel it quickly through the area. Your bicycle helmet will protect your head.
  • Make a temporary sign to warn other people.

Residents can track and report swooping magpies in the local area using this link Magpie Alert.

If you feel a magpie is a risk to public safety that cannot be adequately mitigated by these measure you should report the matter to the nearest National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) office.

For further information on dealing with Magpies during the breeding season visit the NSW Environment and Heritage website.

Contact Details

  • National Parks and Wildlife Service (Orange) - 02 6360 9000