Muswellbrook residents being warned to take precautions as magpie breeding season begins

Muswellbrook Shire Council's sustainability officer Tracy Ward said prevention was important for magpie season
Muswellbrook Shire Council's sustainability officer Tracy Ward said prevention was important for magpie season

WHILE everyone enjoys a few laughs watching people get swooped by magpies on the internet, it’s not so fun if you’re the person involved.

Muswellbrook Shire Council (MSC) is looking to spread awareness about the vicious villains, having already received multiple calls from irked residents.

Sustainability officer Tracy Ward said she understands it can be incredibly frustrating to be continuously harassed throughout the 8-10 weeks swooping is most prevalent, but hurting the birds isn’t an option.

“Don’t harm magpies,” she told the Chronicle.

“It is actually an offence to kill or harm a magpie.

“They are protected throughout the whole of NSW, it’s against the law to kill them, collect their eggs or harm their young.”

Residents can contact MSC and let them know where they’ve been attacked, so some signage can be put up in the area.

But, aside from that, the council’s hands are largely tied on the issue.

Mrs Ward said the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) can relocate birds if they become too aggressive, however there is no guarantee they won’t return.

She also urged people not to aggravate magpies, as they’re just protecting their babies.

Several preventative measures can be taken, and Mrs Ward highlighted that some of the most effective strategies were very simple.

“Look up and watch the birds,” she said.

“Wear a big hat with a wide brim, wear your sunglasses, carry an open umbrella, you can also put eyes on the hat and that will usually prevent them.”

Bike riders are often the most susceptible to swooping, and she said it’s worth trying a different route with less trees, or at the very least using a helmet which is incredibly important. 

The OEH can be reached on 1300 361 967 if a bird needs to be removed, otherwise the council can be notified for lesser incidents.

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