Penrith’s angry birds

Council regularly erects signage warning of swooping magpies. Photo: Megan Dunn
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The three most fearful words in spring – it’s magpie season.

For the next four to six weeks, magpies will vigorously defend their territory, which means every walker, runner, cyclist, man, woman and child will be in the firing line of the little black and white bundles of fear.

Magpies will be nesting from now until October, and you never know where these angry birds will be hiding.

“There are not magpie ‘hotspots’ that we are aware of, but Council places large signage warning of the presence of swooping magpies where they occur,” a Penrith City Council spokesperson said.

Signage is already up at Poplar Park at North St Marys and Swallow Drive at Erskine Park.
Website has indicated more locations in the area, on Jamison Road where a magpie swooped a cyclist six times in one passing, and on Blackbutt Place, Leonay.

Lawrence Orel from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service said while being swooped by a magpie can be alarming, it is mostly a bluff.

“The birds are acting on a natural instinct to protect their young. Usually, they are just giving us a warning and generally only defend within 100 metres of their nest site,” he said.


Up to 10 magpies can be defending the one territory at the one time, and yes, they do remember people’s faces.

“The majority of problem areas for magpies are places where the birds have been provoked previously and it seems the more people annoy them, the worse they may become,” Mr Orel said.

– Do not harass it because it will remember you
– Turn and face the magpies while walking away, they are less likely to swoop if you look at them
– Draw or sew a pair of eyes onto the back of a hat, and wear it when walking through the area
– Wear your sunglasses on the back of your head
– Attach a safety flag to your bicycle as a deterrent
– Put bright zip ties on your helmet, and don’t cut the excess length
– Attach a steel nut to the end of a piece of string and swing it above your head

– Dale Drinkwater

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