Dangerous magpie removed from Spinks Park

Tuesday, 13 November

Lismore City Council has relocated a dangerous magpie from Spinks Park this week after numerous people reported head injuries from the bird.

The male magpie was very aggressive and had been observed attacking anyone who came near its territory. The magpie was not just swooping but aggressively pecking people and putting children and others at risk.

Council’s Environmental Strategies Coordinator Leonie Walsh said it was this combination of factors that led staff to determine the only option was to relocate the bird.

Recent research has revealed that relocated magpies do not return to their nest and another male takes its place, caring for the young.

“We do not like to disturb birds from their territory and swooping people is normal magpie behaviour during nesting season. We would not normally relocate a magpie, but the combination of very aggressive behaviour in a popular park visited by lots of children meant we had to make this decision,” Leonie said.

Magpies can claim territory for up to 20 years and may become defensive and swoop people who venture too close to their nesting sites between July and November.

Only a small percentage of birds strike or swoop as a warning to ward off intruders and this behaviour usually lasts about six weeks, ceasing when the young leave the nest.

Council will not take action to relocate a bird except in the most severe cases. If you have concerns about a bird in your neighbourhood, phone Council on 1300 87 83 87.

Tips for staying safe around swooping magpies:

  • If you spot a magpie nesting site then stay well clear and plan alternative routes.
  • Wear sun glasses and a broad-brimmed hat to protect your head and eyes.
  • Carry an open umbrella.
  • If a bird swoops while you are cycling get off your bike and walk.
  • Some cyclists have success with attaching zip ties to their helmet.
  • Do not approach a young bird or interfere with the birds or their nest in any way as this will likely increase swooping behaviour.
  • If you are swooped, leave the area quickly but do not run.
  • Watch the birds while walking away – it is less likely to swoop if it knows you’re watching.
  • Never harass or provoke birds as this makes them more defensive and may lead to a worse attack next time.
  • Magpies appear to have very good memories and have been known to attack the same people over subsequent seasons while leaving others alone. If it’s attacked you before it may be a good idea to use an alternative route – even next season.

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