Magpies in Spring – Clever little birdies!

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The Australian Magpie is black and white, but the plumage pattern varies across its range. Its nape, upper tail and shoulder are white in males, grey in females and the remainder of the body is black. They mate for life and the couples join larger flocks to protect their territory.

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They are a popular sight here at Emu Ridge, we see them in abundance on Kangaroo Island and they love nesting in our Kangaroo Island Narrow Leaf Mallee trees. We have also hand reared a few over the years. They make gorgeous pets. These two pics of of our work experience girls who helped look after Maggie and our Dog Rosie who Maggie loved having cuddles with! Some interesting facts below!

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We’ve all heard the familiar sound of black and white wings furiously beating the air behind us, felt the sudden breeze rush over our heads and — if we’re really unlucky — been injured by a well-directed peck.

Yes, it’s swooping season again, a time when boys and girls on bikes best wear their thickest helmets, when golfers are on the lookout for a different kind of birdie and postmen have more to worry about than the psycho dog!

No, the birds don’t attack because they are guarding their territory. And testosterone levels in male birds have no bearing on their aggressiveness. It seems that the magpie marauders are only interested in defending their young.

The recommendations came from research that delved further into previous studies that found some birds use facial recognition to decide who to target when defending their nests.

Dr Jones said his team found magpies “really do know the individual” by remembering not only their features but those who regularly passed through their territory.

He found the birds target three categories of people.

“There are magpies who specialize on pedestrians, which is most of them, the postman birds and the cyclist birds,” Dr Jones said.

“Of the magpies who attack pedestrians, people walking around, … of those most of them attack the same people every day.”

He said the team had watched “hundreds of people walk past not getting attacked and then the same little old lady or kid or person walking the dog would be attacked and nobody else would even be looked at.

“We interviewed those people and they said ‘yes it’s like they know who I am’, and they really do.”

Dr Jones said his team was still baffled as to how the magpies decided on their targets.

“What we don’t know is why did they start picking on poor old Mrs Smith walking down the street to get her groceries each morning,” he said.

“I’m pretty sure she didn’t climb the tree and eat a baby magpie last weekend … but something happened.”

Dr Jones said “Mrs Smith” could have done something as minor as looking in the direction of the nest as magpies appeared to have a low tolerance threshold.

The good news is the attacks only last for a few weeks in spring when there are chicks in the nest.

Tips to protect yourself:

  • Move quickly through the area but do not run
  • Wear a hat or carry an umbrella
  • Wear sunglasses for eye protection
  • Bike riders should dismount and walk
  • Do not act aggressively
  • Remember the magpies are protecting their young

(Source: Queensland Government)

Source News Local and ABC News