Associate Professor Darryl Jones grew up in the bush, where he spent far too much time chasing frogs and watching birds. Wildlife has always fascinated him, especially the behaviour of birds. Lately he has become extremely interested in understanding why some species are able to successfully invade cities and suburbs. Associate Professor Darryl Jones is the Deputy Director of the Environmental Future Research Institute at Griffith University.
Being swooped by a magpie is almost a way of life in Australia. Every spring throughout the country the familiar sometimes terrifying clack of a beak near your ear lets you know that it’s September. We now know that this dramatic behaviour is all about male Magpies attempting to keep threats away from their precious chicks. Normally this would be cats and snakes but magpies have added people.
Cyclists, posties and most often pedestrians to the keep away list. And surprisingly most Magpies specialise in one of these three categories of intruder. Now what is extraordinary is that almost all the Magpies that swoop people, on foot, are targeting the same individuals. And that they do so because they can recognize people by their facial features just as people do. Maybe it’s time to rethink the idea of the bird brain!
Agree with the need to rethink ‘bird brain’.
In Brisbane a few years back when we were attempting to deal with cane-toads.
Noticed a crow pecking on something in the driveway.
The crow had a cane toad on its back and was seriously trying to penetrate the toads belly.
Don’t know about the actions before I noticed the event.
Did the toad accidently finish up on its back or did the crow know to flip him over and avoid the poison glands?
Crows worked out the toad flip a long time ago. Around my farm dead toads on their back with the belly eaten out are a common sight.
Its a tough life being a Magpie. I occasionally feed em and note for the last month odd that last years chicks are getting the attack and peck weaning procedure from the parents.
Had a major problem 30 years ago in NSW with aggressive magpies. Decided to regularly feed them. Now in QLD, same deal, with no problems so far. Parent birds bringing their teenagers to us to be fed is not unusual, a few bolder ones walking up to the fridge and warbling for food.
There is no doubt that the birds know us by sight, as visitors put them off.
Establish a threat free and nurturing atmosphere works with our black and white mates.
Hi Pancho, I have the same thing happening with the Magpies! I’m a cyclist and moved to Paradise Point on the Gold Coast, near the Broadwater, which a bicycle path which is about 6km ride, one way. I cycled that nearly daily, and saw the magpies attacking other cyclists, but not me! Then they found out where I lived, and came round to visit me daily, so I stared feeding them with mince meat. So 7 years later I moved to Mt Tamborine, (30 kms away) and there are lots of magpies here too, and the same thing happened! The part that touches my heart, is that when they have their offspring, they bring them around to introduce me, and of course, demand me to feed them! They are very intelligent birds. I love them!
I was feeding two magpies for yrs at Kedron and moved 4 yrs ago to other side of Brisbane and from first week two maggies have come for feed.Think they may be same two.Out of feeding them have never been attacked.
It is abit rough though. I have fed a parenting pair of maggies here in Caloundra for the past three years. Now at dawn they ping on the security screens to wake me to serve breakfast.
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