2020 Lane Cove Magpie Swooping Season Has Started

Be aware, the 2020 Lane Cove Magpie Swooping Season has started.

Bird experts say there is a chance magpies will see people wearing face masks as a threat, as the swooping season starts earlier and runs longer.

Remember that Magpies are native wildlife and they are protected. It is illegal to harm them.

Magpies swoop on intruders if they feel threatened.

Where are Maggie Attacks Most Prevalent in Lane Cove?

In previous years Lane Cove North has been a hot spot for Magpie Attacks.

Last year ITC received reports that a roving reporter was attacked (twice) on the corner of Johnston Crescent and Tantallon Road.

If you want to know where Magpie Attacks are more prevalent, check out the website Magpie Alert. It’s a website dedicated to recording magpie attacks.

On 6th September 2019, a magpie attack was recorded on Magpie Alert for a magpie attack in Johnston Crescent Lane Cove North.


The following attack was reported on Magpie Alert on 24th August 2020.

“Either the magpie from 2019 is back or it’s his baby. I got swooped almost at the end of Johnston Crescent and Epping road but plenty of others have been attacked closer to the corner of Tantallon”


What Steps Do I Take If I Find an Aggressive Magpie?

If you do find an aggressive magpie, please report it to the Lane Cove Council or the Willoughby City Council (if you live in Lane Cove North you might be in the Willoughby City Council area).

Last year, the start of the 2019 Magpie Swooping Season was not without controversy.  The Hills District Council and National Parks and Wildlife worked together to put down a notorious magpie that had been swooping locals for years.  This was a highly unusual step.  This action does highlight the dilemma councils face when trying to manage an aggressive magpie.

In a statement to Local Government News the Hills District Council said “the move was “not taken lightly” and that although council usually would usually sign post known risk areas, the large number of complaints and injuries meant council was left with no other option than to humanely euthanise the bird.”

How Do I Stop A Repeat Attack?

According to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage:

If a magpie swoops at you:

  • Walk quickly and carefully away from the area, and avoid walking there when magpies are swooping.
  • Make a temporary sign to warn other people.
  • Try to keep an eye on the magpie while walking carefully away. Magpies are less likely to swoop if you look at them. Alternatively, you can draw or sew a pair of eyes onto the back of a hat, and wear it when walking through the area. You can also try wearing your sunglasses on the back of your head.
  • Wear a bicycle or skateboard helmet. Any sort of hat, even a hat made from an ice cream container or cardboard box, will help protect you.
  • Carry an open umbrella, or a stick or small branch, above your head but do not swing it at the magpie, as this will only provoke it to attack.
  • If you are riding a bicycle, get off it and wheel it quickly through the area. Your bicycle helmet will protect your head, and you can attach a tall red safety flag to your bicycle or hold a stick or branch as a deterrent.

If you know of a magpie hotspot and have been swooped once or twice in the same area, avoid that area. According to research, magpies can recognise your face. Magpies use facial recognition to repeatedly attack the same person and they may even know where an individual lives if they want to easily victimise them.

According to an article on ABC online you should try and make friends with a magpie. They quote Gisela Kaplan, emeritus professor in animal behaviour at the University of New England and author of Bird Minds.

Professor Kaplan is of the view that a magpie “will only swoop when he doesn’t know somebody. We know that magpies remember and recognise human faces and they will remember them for years,”

Dr Kaplan said that once a magpie knew you and judged you to be a nice person, you will have a friend for life.

“They will form very long friendships, like dogs,” she said.

Last time we raised magpie swooping on In the Cove, we were advised that Kenneth Street, Burns Bay Reserve and Blackman Park were places where magpies like to nest in Lane Cove.

Do you know a magpie hotspot in Lane Cove? Have you been attacked this year? Let us Know.

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  1. The best advice I received regarding magpies was from my brothers – “don’t look up”! I was unfortunately someone the nasty magpie, whose territory was between the school bus stop and our home, would terrorise and humiliate. It would ignore others and wait for me. There are many stories of people losing eyes – however I still have both mine. I still am extremely wary of magpies.