Backyard Buddies

Photo: Rosie Nicolai


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Australian Magpies, Cracticus tibicen are very widespread and live in suburbs where there are trees and adjacent open areas such as lawns, golf courses and playing fields. For most of the year, Magpies are friendly and sociable, and may even venture into your house to beg for food. But for four to six weeks a year during August to September, the male Magpie will defend his home vigorously.

Male Magpies swoop people because they are protecting their chicks, but also because the person walking or riding by reminds the bird of someone who disturbed them in the past. Magpies have very long memories.

Magpies build their nests in the outer branches of a tree, up to 15 m above the ground. It is constructed from sticks and twigs (occasionally wire), with a small interior bowl lined with grass and hair.

There are a lot of simple things you can do to avoid being swooped by a protective Magpie dad defending his chicks, such as:

Most Magpies don't swoop people. Females don't swoop at all because they are busy sitting on the eggs, and only 12% of male Magpies are aggressive. These few males only swoop for six weeks while their chicks are in the nest. Understandably, these dads are just being protective of their babies.

For the rest of the year, people are completely safe from swooping Magpies!

There is a lot to love about these distinctive Australian birds.

Magpies are intelligent birds and full of character. They learn quickly if they are in a safe environment and not likely to be threatened by humans. When this happens, it is a real treat and joy to watch them and their antics in your backyard, and listen to their melodious calls.

The Magpies' appetite for eating the insects in your lawn makes them great backyard buddies as they will help keep your bug numbers down naturally.

Be a Backyard Buddy

During winter, you may be lucky enough to hear a group of Magpies sing a short repetitive version of carolling just before dawn and at twilight after sundown. They only do this during winter and spring, so get out and enjoy the special performance.

Magpies love:

But they don't like:

Be a Buddy to Magpies

Try to:


Don't be surprised if Magpies:

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Photo: OEH