Magpie nesting season has started in the Tweed.
Magpie nesting season has started in the Tweed. Blainey Woodham

Magpies swoop in on residents

MAGPIES are attacking Tweed residents, forcing many to take shelter or face the consequences as the breeding season starts for the year.

Locals walking, running or riding in the Tweed Shire are complaining about swooping magpies, as they bolt for cover and protect their heads to avoid attacks by aggressive male birds, simply protecting their nesting young.

Tweed resident Sophia Edwards has experienced this firsthand, dismounting her bike to dodge the incoming swoops of one angry magpie.

"It frightened me because I've never experienced anything like that before," she told My Daily News.

Ms Edwards said she was shocked at how aggressive the magpie was.

She was forced to take cover in a bus shelter to avoid injury.

"It was quite vicious and I wasn't wearing a helmet and it didn't seem like it was going to stop," she said.

Griffith University behavioural ecologist Professor Darryl Jones said less than 10% of magpies are aggressive.

"It's simply a case of mistaken identity as humans are viewed as predators by the territorial male.

Prof Jones suggested that people should stay away from nesting sites if possible and wear head protection to defend against injuries.

He said magpies would not usually attack from the front, often making their surprise attacks hard to see coming.

"The best thing to do is avoid the area once swooped as they want you away from their nest," he said.

Prof Jones said the season for attacks was from August to September, making attacks very predictable at this time of year.

Residents should not hurt or threaten aggressive magpies and instead keep clear of areas where magpie activity is high.

A Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers adviser said the organisation will not relocate swooping magpies, but will provide information and assistance to Tweed residents by phone on 02 6672 4789.

Magpies are a native bird and are protected by law in all states and territories.

Disturbing nests or eggs is illegal and significant fines apply.

Cyclists are also advised to walk their bike through known swooping areas to avoid distractions and crashes.

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