How to avoid being swooped by birds
The simplest way to avoid being swooped is to avoid locations guarded by swooping birds. MagpieAlert publishes a map of known swoops as reported by the public, as does the Department of Land, Water and Planning.
Your local council may also keep a list of known swooping locations within the municipality.
If you notice a bird swooping in your neighbourhood, try to take an alternate route. Remember that each bird that swoops only does so for around six weeks.
Consider using a journey planning app such as arevo before you head out.
Walk, don’t run
It’s important to leave the area as soon as possible if a magpie is swooping you, but you shouldn’t run. Magpies tend to see fast-moving objects as more threatening so you should calmly, but quickly leave their territory if being swooped.
If being swooped whilst cycling, dismount and leave the area on foot. It may stop the bird swooping you, but more importantly it can also reduce the risk of you having an accident due to the bird distracting you.
Don’t fight back
Don’t try to scare off or confront a swooping bird... you’re not going to win. Magpies, like all native animals, are a protected species and it illegal to harm them, their nests, or their eggs. Conversely, magpies are more often a victim of human behaviour, and were one of the most common animals hit by vehicles during the 2021-2022 financial year.
Harassing them also just feeds into their belief that you are a threat, likely confirming you as a swoop target for life.
Do you always seem to get swooped from behind? It’s not a coincidence – magpies are less likely to swoop you if you’re looking directly at them. If you encounter a swooping magpie, keeping your eyes on it while leaving the area can reduce the likelihood they’ll swoop again.
The old trick of drawing or gluing googly eyes to the back of your bicycle helmet has produced mixed results – it may or may not work depending on the particular bird.
Carry an umbrella
If you can’t avoid a known swooping area, using an umbrella can protect you while you (calmly) move through the territory.
The brolly shouldn’t be used as a weapon. Simply open it when you enter the territory, covering your head to protect yourself should the magpie decide to swoop.
Go to Tassie
Generally speaking, magpies in Tasmania do not swoop. Reasons for this are unclear, but if you really want to avoid swooping season then maybe spring is a good time to book a Tasmanian holiday.