The Magpie – A Friend Or Foe?

Being Australian I know all about the magpie. The magpie itself is a family of birds with many different looks. They come from the crow family and can be found all over the world. The one we know so well in Australia, is of course the Australian Magpie.




If you haven’t been woken up one morning by one of these guys squawking at your window, you aren’t really Australian. You will find these guys all over the country, but mainly focused along the southern areas. The metropolitan areas are full of them. And this is where the problems lay…

For 10 months of the year the magpie goes about it’s daily bird life and we, as humans, go about ours. We get along seamlessly and during this time of the year, you could in fact say that we are best of friends. I still have fond memories from when I was a child and I would feed these guys by hand from my parents back verandah. I still enjoy the calls of a magpie. It has a rather complex call, that seems to be different for each individual magpie. Research has shown that they will mimic the call of other birds, plus the sounds of dogs, cats and even humans.




Now the other two months of the year… well… we don’t get along so well. That would be nesting season. Magpies are very protective. They seem to believe that humans have nothing better to do than steal there eggs. Despite the fact that magpies will nest high up in a tree, they will attack humans anywhere in the facility.  I still remember Dad climbing a tree to remove nests in our backyard (prior to eggs being in them), forcing the magpie to build the nest elsewhere. While most birds know that humans don’t want to steal their eggs and will leave us alone, the magpie will swoop you as soon as it looks like you might possibly be a threat.

Without fail, every year you will read about story in the newspaper, or see something in the news, about someone losing an eye to these guys. From personal experience I’ve been swooped more times than I can count. I’ve even had a couple of direct hits to the head (though no serious damage done). Here’s some good tips for how to best protect yourself from these guys (link).

Despite the fact we are prime enemy number one for those couple of months a year, the magpie is still one of my favorites. Probably because it is one of the first birds I remember from when I was a child. I also have saved several of them in my time too!