Watch out! There are swooping magpies right across the South Burnett.
Watch out! There are swooping magpies right across the South Burnett.

MAGPIE MAP: Four ways to avoid being swooped by magpies

ONLY a small proportion of magpies swoop on people who come within their 'defence zone' near their nest.

But more than 18 magpie defence zones patrolled by winged defenders have been identified across the South Burnett by South Burnett Times readers.

South Burnett Regional Council CEO Mark Pitt said any residents concerned about vicious magpies should get in touch with the Department of Environment and Science.

"The Department of Environment and Science provides guidelines and safety tips on dealing with local wildlife," Mr Pitt said.

"Should residents experience problems with vicious magpies, I encourage them to visit the Department of Environment and Science website to access guidelines, safety tips, posters and warning signs."

According to the Department of Environment and Science, magpies often pick out a few individuals to target that they recognise, or focus on certain types of targets like pedestrians and cyclists.

A magpie's defensive behaviour can range from a non-contact swoop with or without beak snapping, through to pecking, dive-bombing and sometimes front-on attacks from the ground.

Attacks can be serious, leading to bloodied ears and cheeks, and even eye injuries.

Magpies will often swoop pedestrians within 110m from their nest, and generally target cyclists up to 150m away.

Almost all swoops on people are carried out by male magpies defending their eggs and chicks, which are in the nest for about six to eight weeks between July and November.

Magpies often become more aggressive as chicks become older and stop swooping once their young have left the nest.

Here are four ways the Department of Environment and Science suggests you try to avoid or minimise the chances of a magpie attack:

1. Avoid: The best way is to simply avoid the territory where magpies are known to be swooping.

2. Watch the magpie: If you must enter a defence zone, magpies are less likely to swoop if they are under constant observation.

3. Be prepared: Wear a hat or helmet or carry an umbrella.

4. Do not retaliate: If you are swooped, do not crouch in fear or stop, and do not throw sticks and stones or yell at a magpie as it will likely make it more aggressive next time anyone enters the defence zone around their nest.