Gladstone swooping hot spots: menacing magpie season starts
TERROR from above could soon be coming to a street near you.
It's that time of year when the humble Australian magpie makes its presence known as the peak swooping season fast approaches.
For most of the year magpies and people get along without incident, but it can become a very different story once breeding season begins.
Magpies breed between July and November each year with swooping usually hitting its peak in September and October.
During 2017, there were 92 reported attacks recorded across Australia on tracking website magpiealert.com for the week ending August 19.
That number rose significantly over the next five-week period, peaking at 502 attacks for the week ending September 30.
The Department of Environment and Science says almost all swoops on people are carried out by male magpies defending their eggs and chicks, which are in the nest for about six to eight weeks during the breeding season.
"Only a small proportion of magpies swoop on people and these often have a preference for a few individuals that the birds recognise, or certain types of 'targets' like pedestrians and cyclists," the Department says.
"A magpie will only defend its nest within a 'defence zone'. For pedestrians this is usually an area within 110 metres and for cyclists 150m.
"For a few weeks of the year, the safety of a magpie's young becomes its primary concern, and they may no longer be willing to share the area surrounding their nest and chicks.
"Magpies often become more aggressive as the chicks become older, but swooping usually stops once the young have left the nest."
Readers of The Observer gave some insight into swooping hotspots around the region.
Chris Moore had a pesky magpie stalk him along the Gladstone Golf Club fence at the Dawson Hwy, following him all the way to Stockland Gladstone.
Dianne Prider said Dean St and Barreenong St at Glen Eden were trouble spots, while Marilyn Craig "saw one following a postie from the corner of Philip St, near the Blue (Care) Nurses, to the QAL roundabout."
Booth Avenue at Tannum Sands, Billeroy St at Glen Eden and Llewellyn Close and Wistari St at Clinton are other identified hotspots.
SWOOPING STATISTICS - 2017
- Swooping attacks by activity: Cycling (67.6%), Walking (23.1%), Running (4.3%)
- Injuries: 83.7% uninjured, 16.3% injured
- Total state figures: NSW 929 (25.3%), QLD 910 (24.8%), Victoria 811 (22.1%)